my dad has been applying to jobs pretending to be me

A reader writes:

I’m a recent graduate who’s been job hunting for the past few months. I live with my parents and recently, I’ve discovered my father has been applying for jobs pretending to be me. On top of that, he’s gone out of his way to personally email CEO’s from various companies and design agencies asking to be hired. I’m not sure how long he’s been doing this for, but I’m guessing it’s been a good few months. I can understand that he’s worried since my job search has been fruitless so far, but I feel extremely betrayed since he’s crossed a lot of boundaries.

The emails he sent are poorly formatted with different font styles and sizes, and as he didn’t have access to my cover letter, he created one himself, which is also not very well formatted and is badly designed. I’m worried this whole situation will reflect poorly upon me, considering that I’m applying for positions in the graphic design industry. It really upsets me, especially since I’ve put so much effort in creating my own resume and cover letter templates and self-branding to better establish myself as a designer, it just feels like my efforts are all in vain and that my dad doesn’t even have any faith in me. My fruitless job search has already made me feel like an immense failure, and this whole debacle is heavily impacting my mental health.

My dad’s quite a difficult person to deal with. I have tried talking to him several times and asking him to stop, but he feels that I’m being disrespectful and claims he isn’t doing this for himself and is just helping me. He did stop for a while, but only once my mum got involved, so I think it’s safe to say my words don’t hold any weight to him really. But I think he’s started this all again, since I recently received an interview offer for an unpaid internship which I never applied to. I feel like the problem lies with him not seeing me as an adult, he still treats me like a naive child, which is very frustrating.

I also feel like my dad isn’t taking me seriously. For example, last night I sent him a lengthy text asking him to stop sending out those applications, and explained how it could be detrimental to me professionally. I also mentioned that he doesn’t need to worry as I am active in my job search, and I have my own network and a professional mentor to reach out to should I need any help, but he just responded by sending me a bunch of job listings.

I guess I’ve accepted that I can’t guarantee he’ll stop, so instead I’m worried about the ramifications it would have. I’m worried that if I apply to the same companies in the future, there’s a chance they’d recognize “my” application, and I’m extremely worried that this has made me look like a bad candidate overall. Does it pose the possibility of jeopardizing my chances in the future? I haven’t even stepped into the working world and I already feel like my potential career is at risk. Am I wrong or overthinking this?

I just want to make sure that this won’t harm my career, and if it does pose a danger, then I guess I can explain that to my dad. I know as a parent he feels like his actions are just, and in his eyes he’s just doing his best to help, but if he realizes this is causing me more harm than good, I am hoping he would stop.

I’m so sorry your father is doing this to you. It’s incredibly disrespectful and undermining. On an emotional level, it says he doesn’t trust you to manage your life like a capable adult — but please know that’s entirely about him and not you.

The way I know that is that his actions are so grossly inappropriate and undermining that no reasonable parent would do what he’s doing. If he were a reasonable parent who had genuine cause for doubting your ability to manage your life, there are a bunch of different steps he’d take — straightforward conversation, coaching you from the sidelines, maybe offering to pay for career counseling — but at no point would a reasonable parent conclude that they should apply for jobs as you. So the choices he’s making here tell us for sure that this is about him, not you. (I’m guessing it comes from a deep need for control and a belief that he knows best, plus some kind of deeply-rooted fear about the world. He can’t trust you to navigate the world on your own, not because you are incompetent but because on some level the world is that scary to him.)

As for whether what he’s doing poses a danger to you professionally: Yes, it does. If he’s sending bad applications to places you might want to apply to, it could harm your chances with them in the future. Not every company will look at your previous applications, but some will. (That said, to set your mind a little at ease, if your more recent application is strong, they may not care about the earlier, weaker one — figuring you improved your skills, as many people do — but obviously you don’t want that muddying the waters.)

Also, I’m assuming he has no way of knowing where you’ve already applied, so what if he sends “his” application for you to a place where you’re already under consideration? Now they’re going to wonder why you’re applying a second time (and will assume you’re disorganized) and the second, worse application will count against you when they consider your candidacy.

And that’s all before even getting into the fact that he’s misrepresenting you since he’s not providing accurate examples of your writing or your design skills.

If it will help to tell him that you received professional advice that his actions are harming you, feel free to cite me saying that. I think you should also try to enlist your mom’s help again, since it sounds like she did get him to stop for a while.

Frankly, if you didn’t live with your parents, I’d suggest you just tell him you’ve found a job, in the hopes that that would stop him from continuing to apply places on your behalf. Since you live with them, that’s not practical. (But maybe you could have a fake change of heart about your field and tell him you’re now targeting jobs in some other industry, in the hopes that he’ll start directing his applications there instead…)

All of that is about hoping he’ll change, though, and you’re right to accept that you can’t force him to. Ultimately it’s unlikely that what he’s doing will make it impossible to find a job, just potentially harder.

When you do find a job, I would strongly, strongly recommend telling him nothing identifiable about it — for example, you should say “small company that does X” rather than telling him the company name — because he might not respect boundaries once you’re employed either. And once you move out (which you will probably benefit from doing as soon as you can), make sure he’s on a strict information diet — the less he knows about your professional life, the less he’ll be able to interfere in it.

I’m sorry that’s the case; it’s a hard thing to accept about a parent.

Read an update to this letter

{ 556 comments… read them below }

  1. Chick (on phone)*

    I’m so sorry. You need to start making the steps to cut them off & live more independently. People like this do not change. I am so, so sorry you’re dealing with this.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. Get a local job as a barista or waitress and stockpile money and make plans to move as far as possible. If you live in Columbus start looking for jobs in Seattle and Portland; if you live in Atlanta, start looking for jobs in Chicago and west. Once you have a few bucks saved up see about moving for a lesser job in a distant city and resume your serious job search from there. This is a real crisis. Your father is intent on ruining your life or at least controlling it. The further away you can get the better. This is unbelievably awful.

      I like the idea of telling him you have given up on graphic design and are now focused on (some other job and industry) — although it may not stop him from harassing people with design jobs.

      Just awful. I hope you have clearly told him that his cover letter and materials make you look incompetent since he is not a graphic artist and he is actively undermining your job search and ruining your chances of being hired. Ask him if that is his objective.

      But mostly — make a plan to get out and get far away. If you have friends or family in a distant city who might help you great. But otherwise, stockpile money now and move as soon as you can get any sort of job a thousand miles away. And once you do, don’t give them your address.

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        With some parents, that might be the entire point, to force OP to stay home. It’s a form of control, and may be deliberate sabotage. My own boyfriend was subjected to tactics like this by his mother. Her goal was to keep him from gaining independance. Sadly, she succeeded for years until she died.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          I went to type something along the lines of “oh that’s awful and I’m so glad he can move on now.” It’s taken me way too long to find phrasing that wasn’t just rewording “I’m glad she died.”

          1. Dragon_Dreamer*

            Yeah… we just don’t talk about her. He loved her because she was his mother, but we both agree she was bat$@@@.

      2. L'étrangère*

        If you don’t mind, I’m going to raise a totally different issue than the one of the horrible family you’ve had the misfortune to be born in. OP, you mention ‘A’ cover letter, implying that you wrote a single one and you use the same one for every job. Please, please read more in depth about this topic on this site. A cover letter personalized to each application is essential to a successful job search! Read more here, and you’ll also find very useful interview suggestions. Good luck OP, and remember what a friend of mine always said “your parents can ruin your childhood, but only you can ruin the rest of your life”

        1. seespotbitejane*

          I also think it might be worth it to get a new email address and change the name you use for applications. If your dad is applying for you as Firstname Lastname maybe you start putting F. Middlename Lastname on your resume instead. Get a Google voice number. If an your contact info is different and you do end up in the situation Alison described where your dad applies somewhere where you’re already under consideration, it won’t look like a double application it’ll just look like maybe you have cousin looking for the same kind of work.

          1. FeralScientist*

            I absolutely love this advice for the letter writer.

            Reading the post was a flash back to the distance past where I had a parent do something similar, although thankfully much less severe. I did almost exactly what seespotbitejane is recommending, including getting a PO Box. Make sure you don’t stay logged in on any shared devices – that was how mine got initial access to my email.

            Thankfully my parent calmed the fudge down when I got a job offer in a different country. They still don’t acknowledge the damage they did but 4,000 miles really mitigated the impact.

          2. Katurah B*

            Yes to this. I’ve always used my F. Middle name to apply to jobs. So if my parent was doing the same as yours, I’d switch everything to my Legal First Name or a nickname aka Katie vs Katherine, and just fix it once hired. Hope you get something!

          3. Katherine*

            A PO box wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. That disguises their address and keeps important documents out of dear ol’ Dad’s hands.

        2. Rosie*

          Couldn’t agree more. I read cover letters and decide from that if I will bother looking at the CV.

        3. msjwhittz*

          The OP mentions cover letter templates, plural. Their description indicates they are very well-versed in what they need to put forward in their job search, unlike their father.

      3. amoeba*

        Also, just thinking… could you find a job a Starbucks and whatever and then just… tell your dad you’ve found a job? I mean, probably depends on the shifts you’d be working etc., but if it’s anything remotely close to a “normal office schedule”… (and you could spend any additional time at a café doing your actual job search from there?)
        I mean, it would certainly involve a ton of lying, so no idea if that would work/be too risky/be worth it.

      4. Clara*

        I think she’s in the UK based on ‘mum’ and we’re in a serious rental crisis, moving away is a difficult option right now – especially if you’re going to one of the bigger cities. However, OP, I will say that there are lots of good jobs out there in graphic design. It took my friends who work in that sector a while to find their roles, but they’ve loved being in them. A few took apprentice positions even though they’d graduated, to get a foot in the door at major orgs, so maybe consider that as an option if you haven’t previously.

      5. Tai*

        Absolutely! OP needs to get a job for minimum wage and just save, save, save! I know times are different, but I worked as a server and my now spouse and I managed to get away from my family. That was almost a quarter century ago. It was tough but absolutely worth it. I now have my master’s degree and we both have stable careers. OP, you can’t stay there. You’re being abused. Get a small studio apartment, live with roommates, whatever it takes, and get yourself as far away as you can. I do want to add, there may be local not-for-profit organizations that can help you with career counseling as well as with housing. Best of luck to you, OP!

    2. Random Dice*

      You may want to put a phrase like this in your back pocket in case his fraudlications come up with an employer:

      “I don’t know if you have experience with identity theft or relatives who can’t be reasoned with. My father has a mental health issue, and forges job applications in my name. It occasionally makes things awkward. (Rueful smile, then pivot back to the job) Fortunately as you can see by my real application, I actually am a graphic design professional. One thing that caught my eye in your listing was…”

      The first sentence establishes that it’s not only behavior that isn’t ok, but that you’re the victim of it (not somehow the perpetrator), and then neatly pivots to a nearly-universal situation (unreasonable family members) that will subconsciously put them on your side (“yeah, my mother-in-law is completely unreasonable!”) and subtly align the two of you against the world.

      Mental health is a vague term that encompasses a lot – anxiety, compulsiveness, etc – and so is truthful without derailing. You do not want to burst into tears and spill the whole situation. Keep it short and sweet and high level.

      None of this is fair and I’m so sorry you’re dealing with it.

      1. Rebecca*

        I have family that’s a similar flavor of crazy, and when the inevitable no-contact happens, don’t share that part. I’ve found that a significant amount of people tend to harshly judge you for saying you don’t speak, even if they’re staring right at evidence that clearly gave you a valid reason. Just don’t share it at work. Ever.

        And a piece of further, unsolicited advice: your mother is enabling this behavior. She may not be actively participating. She is not responsible for another adult’s behavior. But she’s decided that she will not die on this hill (or the many other hills she should have been dying on years ago – things like this don’t happen in a vacuum). She’s tolerating it and choosing to remain with this man that is abusing her child (because that’s what this is, and, again, things like this don’t happen in a vacuum). You have to view them both as the problem, because they are. Don’t excuse the fact that she’s remaining married to someone that’s abusing her child.

        1. Random Dice*

          Agree about not telling most people about going no contact with toxic family members.

          Cutting off toxic people is a beautifully healthy bit of self-care and deserves praise.

          Sadly, many people criticize instead, and often actively undermine healthy boundaries in others.

          I’ve noticed that those who are most determined not to allow others to go no-contact with family (through nagging, prodding, surprise invites to the cut-off family) come from / enable / are responsible for toxic family situations themselves.

          Not addressing one’s own sh*t is a powerful motivator to blow up other people’s healthy boundaries.

          1. Taking the Fun out of Dysfunction*

            When I was a child in the 70s, my mother took the then almost unheard of step of ceasing to interact with my dad’s mother. My paternal grandmother was all kinds of toxic and I only wish my mom had been able to remove me from her influence as well. It always struck me as sad that the biggest proponent of reconciliation was my other grandmother, aka my mother’s own mother! Her reasoning was that all mother in laws are horrible to their daughter in laws and you just have to suck it up like she did.

            (I’m happy to report that I lucked out in the MiL lottery, much to my, and my own mother’s delight)

            1. allathian*

              My paternal grandma abused my dad when he was a kid, she did stuff like tie his hands to the sides of his bed at night so he wouldn’t get out of bed, ostensibly to protect him because he was a sleepwalker, to the point that he couldn’t sleep unless his hands were tied to his bed. AFAIK this stopped by the time he went to school. She also infantilized him and resented my mom for being the most important woman in his life. When I was 13 we moved to the same block to be closer to her as she’d lost her husband and needed more care. I think she finally stopped infantilizing my dad when I was 16 or 17. She had dinner with us in October or November, and she asked my dad if he’d put on his long johns yet… My dad was in his early 40s, and I rolled my eyes at her because at the time, my parents trusted me to wear clothes that were appropriate for the weather, or to suffer the consequences (feeling the cold, getting sick) if I didn’t.

              Originally she had our front door key, but my mom took it away when she started visiting without invitation at all hours of the day or night. Even so, she was a great grandma to my sister and me, and I’m glad my parents didn’t try to limit contact. She taught me to knit and crochet, and I spent many hours with her as a young teen after school doing crossword and jigsaw puzzles with her, and I’m certain those intellectual pursuits helped delay the onset of her dementia at least a bit.

              (I also lucked out with my MIL, she’s a great person and I like her for her own sake. Naturally we don’t always agree on everything, but she respects my/our boundaries, and she’s always respected our parental decisions, for example.)

          2. ToS*

            There is a great three-episode series on Estrangement with the Death Sehks and Money podcast – so the word is getting out there that estrangement happens for very legitimate reasons.

            Totally agree that bad boundaries often is a calling card for people from dysfunctional families. We do wish them and their families some recovery, regardless of the origin – a lot of it is trauma-related, some mental health – it takes a lot of energy to break the cycle. Estrangement also requires a lot of energy.

        2. Random Dice*

          And agree that the mother enables his toxicity. Don’t give her a free pass, when you can afford therapy and deciding how much contact to have with your parents once you escape.

          I don’t think even TalkSpace is a therapy option now, its prices are customized by location (for some reason, even though it’s remote), but roughly $200-400 per month. I’m sorry. But later hopefully it’ll be an option!

        3. Lora*

          Agreed. I honestly would just leave it as “I was a victim of identity theft”.

          The amount of “but faaaaaamily” that people will dredge up in defense of people they have never met and have no connection to is AMAZING. Example: Lucy Studey, whose dad was a serial killer, attempted to turn her dad in several times, and was told “family matters should be handled by family” and “oh but you were just a kid, you couldn’t really understand” despite actual cadavers being discovered on the family property, where she said they’d be.

          When it happens, you hope that they just cannot wrap their brains around such a thing in their own family, and that’s the reason for the knee-jerk denial reaction. Because the alternatives for excusing the behavior aren’t great.

          1. BubbleTea*

            “Identity theft” brings to mind stuff like applying for loans rather than jobs – I’d perhaps say something like “I’m aware of someone making job applications in my name, without my involvement or permission”.

            1. Random Dice*

              Bubble Tea, agree that in the strictest sense it’s not identity theft, but it’s a useful glossing-over term.

              Everyone knows identity theft is wrong.

              Most people are a little iffy on what it actually is. If OP were in cybersecurity or privacy, that glossing-over would not remotely fly… but in graphic design, it will.

              Keep it high level and simple, and distract away from the fact that your dad is doing something awful.

            2. AngelS.*

              Yes! This is the best response. Short and simple. No need to disclose further family drama.

          2. Random Dice*

            “Example: Lucy Studey, whose dad was a serial killer, attempted to turn her dad in several times, and was told “family matters should be handled by family””

            Jaw dropping

            1. Ell*

              IDK. I googled the name and it sounds like they never actually found evidence of it, to match the claims the daughter was making about their father. So we have one person SAYING this happened and no actual found corpses.

            1. Vio*

              The story is not *necessarily* true. It sounds like a very complicated investigation due to the two sisters conflicting memories and the so far lack of evidence but it could ultimately go either way. The fact that there’s still no reports of finding remains does suggest that there might not be any to find, but it doesn’t yet rule it out completely. But whether or not he’s guilty of those murders he had two wives who both committed suicide and a daughter who’s accusing him of being a serial killer. That definitely sounds like some serious family issues if nothing else.
              Also regardless of whether the reports are true, fabrication, misremembered or whatever it’s still extreme dereliction of duty that they were not originally investigated thoroughly

        4. PrettySticks*

          Yes, your mom is absolutely a part of the problem.

          My dad is also a similarly abusive, though not in this exact manner. I finally (at age 40!) had enough. In most ways, I like my mom quite a bit, but over Thanksgiving 2021, I finally had to tell her that peacekeeping is not, in and of itself, a virtue. She was very “there were good people on both sides” about it all. Just for the record, my mother is a very independent, competent woman, and actually was the breadwinner for most of my life – which makes the whole thing that much more annoying. Anyway, I told her that if she was going to enable my dad’s behavior, she wasn’t going to hear from me again – and it’s been a year and half. I keep thinking at some point I’m going to feel bad about it, but honestly it’s been a huge weight off my shoulders.

          Of course, this was simpler because I don’t live with them. I remember feeling similarly trapped until I moved out.

      2. IDIC believer*

        I definitely would be prepared to say this about his actions. And as others have said, take any work to start saving to get out, couch surf, or whatever necessary to move out and preferably far away.

        And lastly, in no uncertain terms, tell both mom and dad that you will go permanently no contact if he does anything more. I know this is incredibly hard especially with an authoritative controlling parent, but best to start now because even once you start a career there’s every likelihood he will find some other way to control and sabotage you. I had to do this, it was hard, and others complained, but my tears and misplaced guilt was worth it once I enforced the no contact.

        1. Bah humbug*

          “once you start a career there’s every likelihood he will find some other way to control and sabotage you”

          Unfortunately I think this is the next stage, or at least a very likely escalation. My mother has a history of sabotaging me, not in the work sphere (because I don’t allow her near it) but by badmouthing me to friends and family. Many of my family members have rejected me or cut me off and it really hurts.

          I don’t have any better advice than to walk away. Get away, stay away and keep them as far at arm’s distance as you possibly can. And try not to catastrophise about this, because that’s what he wants you to do, to believe that he is all-powerful and can make or break you. The reality is, the world is a huge place, and people have very short memories. Work on your escape plan; best of luck, and I look forward to the update when you tell us about your awesome new life.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      I would really highly recommend reading Captain Awkward’s advice column for concrete steps to getting out of your parents’ house.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Seconding this. I was hoping Alison would ask the captain to help her answer this letter. Regardless, OP should definitely check out Captain Awkward for advice on this topic for sure, which goes so far beyond just work. Alison did a great job answering the professional side of this question and the captain will hopefully have some good posts that will help OP navigate the family side of it.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I have to agree–right now he’s got you where he wants you. Feeling trapped and helpless, like there’s no way around his awful behavior.

      The very second you make your first move towards getting out, that will begin to dissolve like the lie it always was. Every move you make to empower yourself–savings, moving in with friends, a temp job in order to pay bills–will free you.

      Only you know if you must go no contact but I suspect that’s where this kind of controlling madness will lead. Let me share one of the best things I ever read about freeing yourself, from the Captain Awkward website:

      Listen: In the future, there is a small, quiet room that is just yours, where you are safe and you are free. In that room your shoulders will finally start to come down from around your ears. Nobody can come into that room unless you let them. In that clean quiet place, you will work and you will study. You will love and you will heal. I know this is true because I am there with you. We are there together because you saved us. You saved us because you were brave and because you never stopped believing in that room.

      Here’s the link to the original post:

    5. JTB*

      They also don’t just stop at this, they need to make sure their children succeed. School, relationships, other endeavors as an individual and not as a family, people like LW’s father don’t see boundaries where common sense would let them do so and potentially at the expense of the person they think they’re helping. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing at all.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      Certainly identity fraud, not sure it raises to a criminal level but by any means unethical. But there are a lot of parents who assume their child’s identity is fair game.

      1. Alan*

        Someone that boundary challenged very well might try to open up credit in your name or do any number of other crazy things. I doubt that this applying for jobs is the only manifestation of their overstepping. I’d definitely lock my credit reports, just as a start.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Absolutely. This is exactly the kind of thing Dad might pull to prevent her being able to rent or get a mortgage.

        2. JTB*

          Identity documentation as well, like birth certificate and social security if applicable. If LW has a bank account their father has access to, or even the same bank, they need to change it. Overstepping parents are known to convince bank employees to give them access to their kids accounts because they’re the parent.

          1. Mr freeze*

            Also, if a bank asks for your mother’s maiden name as a form of security certification, make one up.

        3. Mr freeze*

          Yes. Freeze your credit reports. I had a toxic relative who tried to loop me into the toxicity. I froze my reports.

      2. Gigi*

        Sadly, so true. I have not one, not two, but FIVE friends whose parents got credit cards in their name when they started getting applications in the mail during college. The entitlement over something that could impact their entire future adult life is astounding to me.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          Absolutely! And while some of those parents did that and then used those credit cards in such a way that their kid graduated college with great credit (which is a different ethical problem entirely) there are also those who totally trashed their kids credit, some before they were even legally allowed to have credit.

    2. Marna Nightingale*

      Even if it is … LW lives with him. The first rule of the nuclear option is don’t deploy it while standing on the target yourself.

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        Well said. She really has few options until and unless she’s self-supporting and he looks as if he’s doing everything he can to see that that isn’t possible.

        1. Marna Nightingale*

          Although, afterthought, if it IS illegal she might be able to get someone he respects to scare the ass off him about it. Throw in a bit about how the firms he’s sending stuff to have no relationship with him and no motive to cut him slack.

          This is a counsel of desperation right up there with “can you dump an entire latte on his keyboard?”, so consider it with enormous care.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Random thought … if there’s a cat or two in LW’s home, knocking a beverage onto the keyboard/computer and blaming the cat isn’t a horrible option. And I don’t think the cat would mind.

            1. Bearly Containing Myself*

              Please don’t. The kind of person who would impersonate their child isn’t someone I would trust not to harm an animal.

        2. Bee*

          Yes – if you don’t have one already, OP, I’d recommend getting some kind of job, any kind of job, in the meantime just to speed up the process of self-sufficiency. Part-time work might not be enough to live on, but if you save whatever you can you’re more likely to have the deposit for an apartment & moving expenses & first month’s bills etc ready to go as soon as you do get a salaried job. (Also, it can’t hurt to have a reason to get out of the house, and if you have SOME kind of work he might back off a little.)

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Sadly agreeing – also Operation Bug Out is going to require doing things (like leasing a new place to live eventually) that will require an unlocked credit report.

        What OP can do though is to start checking her credit reports and watching to make sure dad isn’t pulling any stunts to hurt their credit.

    3. Former Gremlin Herder*

      I don’t think it is, from a legal standpoint. Unless the job applications had him electronically sign to verify that everything in the application is true and correct, but even then I don’t think LW has much legal recourse. Which is unfortunate because this is a shitty thing to do to someone and I want them to have a way to make this right. (Disclaimer, not a lawyer.)

      1. old curmudgeon*

        I also have the impression from the LW’s phrasing that they may not be in the US, which would make US laws inapplicable.

        It still might bear checking with an attorney (solicitor, barrister, whatever term is used in your country, LW) to see if this type of activity carries any potential legal consequences for your dad. Possibly a sternly worded letter on an attorney’s letterhead might convince him to back off, although you’d definitely need to weigh the possible benefits against the potential risks of being told to move out.

        Sending my best wishes to you in any case – you are in an awful situation, and I hope you are able to escape. Please update us!

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah, I was thinking defamation because it harms her job reputation but I know it doesn’t meet the legal definition which has to be malicious. S lawyer would probably agree to write a scary letter, but you also have to remember OP is still at home…

          1. Lilo*

            Defamation cases are super tricky. If she wasn’t living with Dad I’d suggest a Cease and Desist letter just because those are actually pretty effective. But her living with them makes it super complicated.

          2. Temperance*

            It’s not defamation, though, because it’s not untrue statements about her, it’s him impersonating her.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              Yes. The irony is that if he were deliberately saying horrible lies about her, it could actually be easier to spot as false, than this well meaning deception. A crappy application is a very believable thing.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          “my mum” suggests UK/Australia? Not saying Americans never say that but it’s not very common.

            1. MassMatt*

              Interesting, I’m in New England and have only ever heard British/Australians?New Zealanders use it.

              But regardless where LW is from, it’s nutty behavior on the Dad’s part. Once she is able to move out of the house, perhaps she can get a lawyer to send a “cease and desist” letter.

          1. Office Gumby*

            If LW is in Australia, that’ll make Operation Bug Out much easier, thanks to a livable minimum wage (so Any Old Job will do until they land their dream career), and a decent social safety net.

            However, it doesn’t solve the problem of Dad continuing to apply. That behaviour has got to stop pronto!

            If someone was doing that to me, I’d be throwing a temper tantrum with a well-crafted untruth (if it did actually come true, I’d definitely be throwing the tantrum). I’d get all angry at them, blaming them for costing me a job when I “got rejected” by a company who explained “why they weren’t hiring me because” they thought my cover letter awful and unprofessional, and pretty much picking apart my application as awful, and gave me a warning never to apply to them again. I’d bellow something along the lines of “you did this, because you don’t know how to apply to a GD job. It’s not like applying to an accountant’s job or a mechanic’s job.” And I’d be making sure they were aware of just how much they DON’T know about applying to a GD or other creative-type job. I’d wrap up my tantrum with a warning for them to never do it again because they’re only making things worse.

            Then again, I’m not a new grad who’s still living with their parents. I’m a crotchety old middle-ager who’s seen too much crap in the world to put up with additional crap.

            1. Marley's Ghost*

              I misunderstood what you meant by GD at first. I was thinking, I wouldn’t say that to a parent!

      2. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

        Don’t most make you tick a box, though? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a job without that disclaimer.

        1. Goody*

          Seems to me that someone who holds no qualms about impersonating their own child in submitting job applications is unlikely to suddenly balk at a checkbox that swears that the contents of said application are true and correct.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      I was wondering if maybe a cease and desist would be an option? I’m not sure if there is any actual legal recourse but sometimes a strongly worded letter on legal letterhead is enough to stop someone’s bad behavior.

      But I know family stuff is so tricky and the LW might be hesitant to go that route.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I feel like a Cease and Desist letter is for someone you can’t talk to, not someone you live with.

        The LW needs to move out ASAP. I know that can be easier said than done, but it’s the same as “your boss is a jerk and isn’t going to change.” LW’s dad is way overstepping and is not going to change (i.e. talking to him DID NOT WORK since he started doing it again). LW needs to get out from under his thumb and put him on a limited information diet so that he can not interfear with her professional life ASAP.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Agreed, I amended my suggestion once I realized they live at home. It really is a nuclear option, or at the very least an option to only use when you’re not financially dependent on someone.

          Sadly their best bet seems to be get a new email address for job applications (to separate the real applications from the fake) and try really hard to get a job and get out.

          Or maybe also send him a link to this page? Wonder if hundreds of internet strangers saying the dad is awful and wrong might shift his perception. I know I’ve (frustratingly) told a parent something and they refused to believe me until they saw someone saying the same thing elsewhere.

          1. AthenaC*

            Yes I would do this – a new, unique email address. This is how many places differentiate between unique individuals.

          2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            > Wonder if hundreds of internet strangers saying the dad is awful and wrong might shift his perception.

            No. It wouldn’t surprise me if that would prompt an angry, abusive outburst from the dad.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Sigh…most probably yes. If there’s anything terrible thinking and behavior can be counted on to do, it’s double down in the face of opposition.

          3. Green great dragon*

            Ooh, I like the new email idea. And if there’s a way to change the way your name appears, like including or dropping a middle initial, or being Tas instead of Tarquinius, that might not hurt. At least in creating enough doubt that they ask instead of assuming you’ve applied twice.

            1. kitryan*

              Yes- if the dad’s truly unstoppable, then separating out ‘real’ applications with a different email and if possible different form of name (Nick versus Nicholas, middle name versus no middle name, whatever can be done) to make them look as much like they might be different people will make it less likely that an employer will assume they’re the same person, which increases the chance for an actual interview or phone screen where some of the suggestions to briefly explain the issue can be used if needed.
              Also, as others have suggested, putting dad on a no-info diet (and probably mom too, depending on how likely she is to have trouble not telling dad) and applying to jobs far away (both to get out of the area he’s likely to be looking at and ultimately to relocate) seems like a good plan.

        2. acl-ny*

          But moving out might not change anything for dad. He still has her info, he can still apply. The only difference would be that OP has a different physical address.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yes – hence why there are lots of suggestions to move as far away from “daddy dearest” as possible.

            If he doesn’t live in the same area it may be easier to block his nonsense, and also apply at places that haven’t already been spammed by him.

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        Adding on that I overlooked they live at home still, that makes it even more complicated. I very much like Marna Nightingale’s comment above: “The first rule of the nuclear option is don’t deploy it while standing on the target yourself.” So unfortunately it seems like LW’s best option is to find a job (and then GTFO). The world is vast so I’m semi-optimistic they can find one at a place their dad hasn’t poisoned the well at, so to speak.

        I might recommend LW get a new email for job hunting (and definitely don’t tell their dad about it) so if they do happen to apply to a place that their dad applied to the applications will appear as separate entities, and his bad work might not be associated with their good/real application.

        1. Camellia*

          This is great advice, Narwhal!

          “I might recommend LW get a new email for job hunting (and definitely don’t tell their dad about it) so if they do happen to apply to a place that their dad applied to the applications will appear as separate entities, and his bad work might not be associated with their good/real application.”

          1. Alexander Graham Yell*

            Would a slight name change help as well? Like L. Writer, or a shortened/lengthened version (Alexandra vs. Alex vs. Ali, for example) – the more you’re able to separate from what your dad is putting on there, the better. (Maybe even a burner phone/phone number? It feels extreme, but I’d think HR would be more likely to think that different name + email + phone number would indicate two similarly named candidates and not the same one twice.

            1. MCD*

              Yes! I second this suggestion. The slight name change and new email should help tremendously. So sorry, OP.

            2. Yorick*

              Definitely a different number. In the US (maybe other countries too, idk) you can get a Google number and be able to use it from your regular phone

              1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

                I did that to separate personal and business calls on my mobile. Even if they charge a small amount, it’s definitely worth it. Same with having multiple email addresses for different purposes. Once you procure them, OP, do not let anyone in your family know that they exist.

              2. Nina*

                Yeah fyi (because you kind of asked and I feel like it’s useful info?) Google Voice numbers, IMDb movie streaming, downloadable Google maps that you can use offline with just your location turned on, and most of the good stuff on Netflix, do not exist outside the US.

            3. Katherine Vigneras*

              I was thinking the same thing – that a different name + email + phone might get the employer to just think that J. B. Smith and Jane Smith are two different applicants – and, in a way, they are…

            4. acl-ny*

              I like this idea too, and was thinking that OP could use a variation of their name on the applications.

            5. Hannah Lee*

              That’s a great idea!

              I’m thinking bad dad’s awful application materials probably wouldn’t make it pass the first screening, so the chances of LW’s true application and dad’s being reviewed closely enough by the same person that someone might connect the dots of their experience, education is pretty slim. So having the “two” candidates distinguished by name, email, phone # in the company’s HRIS or recruiting SW might be enough.

              Also, LW, is there any chance you can edit the resume, etc that dad is using for this? To still be accurate but be different from your real materials? At the same time, if you share any devices, keep your job search materials firewalled away from his access, either on separate devices, not on his network or even on a thumb drive only you have access to.

            6. Chirpy*

              I found that while living with my parents, no matter how many times I told people to use my cell number/ email, I still got things sent to my parents as I still had the same address and home phone number. It was very awkward when I had a medical issue because they’d open my mail without checking the name, or answer the phone calls (and grill me about it).

            7. nona*

              I was going to suggest this too. Then if a place has two applications, one from Firstname Secondname, and one from F. Nickname Secondname they may not even equate them, and if they do, and notice the common CV, they’ll probably realize pretty quick that Dad’s version is fake (no need to admit it’s your Dad doing that if you don’t want to – if you get asked about it, just say it came to your attention that someone is doing that, and you find it very odd).

              There’s no requirement that says you have to apply/use your legal name (although you may have to provide it at times). I work with several people (either immigrants who have Anglesized their names, or John Smith III, who goes by a nickname).

              Also, please know that what your Dad is in no way OK. Good luck.

              1. Need More Sunshine*

                Seconding this! As a manager, I don’t care about your address, just the general town so I can be sure you’re applying from near enough to commute. OP, you can simply list town/city and state (or whatever designations your country uses) and it should be just fine!

            8. Rainbow*

              I was going to suggest this too! Like, if you’re Katherine, you can go by Katie even if you hate it, and tell them that actually people call you Katherine in real life.
              I use a name totally unrelated to my legal one in everyday life, and I also apply to jobs using it. It’s not even my middle name or anything; I just don’t like my real name very much. I don’t even mention it till I get an offer and legal stuff gets involved. Nobody has ever batted an eyelid. So you can be pretty flex with names on CVs. I feel a company would understand something was up if Katherine Smith applied with a polished CV, and Katie Smith sent a garish scribble to the CEO.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                Plenty of people in all sorts of professions do this all the time, the most famous examples being pen and stage names, but I doubt most employers would blink an eye over it– I don’t know one person, I don’t think, who goes by their full legal name everywhere.

                1. Agrita*

                  I think this is common in the US. Or maybe English speaking countries. But where I come from people go by their legal names and I would never put my nickname or an altered version of my name on a CV.

          2. learnedthehardway*

            This is a very good idea. A completely separate email will allow the OP to apply for roles without any chance that her application will be connected with anything her father has done. Even if she applied to a job and her father applies for her to the same job, the data will look like 2 different people with the same name applied.

            To further differentiate, the OP can use a middle name or initial as well.

            Updating her resume to a new format and NOT sharing the latest version with her father would help. If the OP can add in any new information about roles/education/etc., that will also make it look at least like the resume is the new version (if she applied to a role her father applied her to).

            1. I have RBF*

              They need to make sure to always lock their computer, or even log out completely, so that Deceptive Daddy can’t use the new email address to send his junk from or put it on his mangled applications. Same with their phone – put an alpha-numeric pin on it, and don’t share it.

              If they ask about any of it, they should tell them that they’re worried about hackers and stalkers, and trying to develop good habits for when they get a job.

              This is literally the advice companies give to their employees for cybersecurity – lock your computer so that you have to login every time you have been away from it, put a pin on your phone, don’t talk about your employer on social media, don’t post on social media when you are going out of town, etc.

              Getting these habits before you start working can be beneficial on a lot of fronts.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Also a thought in case you do have to get physical paper mail still – get a post office box (AKA a PO Box) ASAP.
                I know in the US just about every single post office will have them available for rent, as do some of the shipping companies (like UPS Stores). I haven’t seen the rates recently, but about a decade ago we paid $47 for six months at a UPS store.

          1. SirHumphreyAppleby*

            Adding to this – delete whatever email addresses your dad knows ans has been using. Update banks, university etc etc with your new email addresses and shut down old ones.

            In some cases (I don’t know if that’s true of job application systems) tools can verify whether or not an email addresses is “live” and will prevent submissions. In other cases since the email address is dead and won’t receive emails, the emails are more likely to be seen as spam.

            Definitely move out as soon as you can though, and don’t share info with your dad moving forward.

            1. acl-ny*

              Dad could create a gmail account for her. It’s not clear that he hadn’t already done that.

              1. londonedit*

                Yeah, it’s not clear that her dad’s been using her actual email address – he could well be emailing from his own address (especially if it doesn’t have his full name in it, and/or they share initials, or whatever) or he could have set up a separate address under her name.

                1. Ellis Bell*

                  She received an offer to interview for something she hadn’t applied for, which suggests he’s having the employers respond to her rather than him.

            2. kitryan*

              The one thing about deleting the email he’s using is that it removes OP’s ability to keep any sort of tabs on dad’s activity. If it would really work to get many of the applications auto rejected due to having a bad email without diminishing the chances of a real application using a different email (and possibly name variation and different phone) then that might be worth it – but something to think about, probably. Especially if the next step for dad would be creating a new email for more applications that OP would not be able to see responses on?

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Sadly – could totally see him creating a new email. It’s sad – but keeping the old email until after you can successfully Bug Out is probably best so you can at least keep tabs on his crackpot but dangerous antics.

              2. JSPA*

                maybe add an autoresponder? You’d have to prevent it from autoresponding to dad, though, and to anyone associated with dad.

                Probably better to forward mail from the old box to the new box (invisibly) but make all of the forwarded mail go into a separate “suspect” inbox.

                But…absolutely change the password on that account. (And if dad is tech savvy, do it from a computer or phone that he doesn’t have a key stroke recorder on.)

                If he asks, just tell him it there was a potential hack, as you noticed it was open in multiple places that were…not you.

                [PS I find myself uncomfortably aware posting this comment, as since the last couple of weeks, it seems that one has to disable one’s VPN–and thus, some percentage of one’s antivirus protection–to post here. Having to make myself vulnerable to tell someone how to be careful just feels all wrong. I have put in a report or two, but until that changes, or until my trip is over, I suppose I’ll be reading and posting less.]

                1. A Simple Narwhal*

                  FWIW I haven’t had to disable my VPN to post here. I know Alison has also said they’re addressing some site issues so maybe that’s related?

          2. Empress Matilda*

            Yes. And a Google phone number, and a post office box to use as your mailing address. And use a different version of your name if you can – even using your full name rather than just first and last, should help differentiate you from the “other” candidate with a similar name. Obviously, do not tell either of your parents any of this.

            I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, OP. I hope this thread leads you to a fantastic new job and the ability to move out of your parents’ house very soon.

        2. Rex Libris*

          This is good advice. LW, I’d take every step possible (new email, post office box, whatever) to insulate and separate your job hunting from Dad and his shenanigans. He’s proven that he can’t be supportive, respectful or responsible when involved. Even if all of his fears about your prospects were actually true, the fact that he can’t see that the way he’s addressing it is irrational speaks volumes.

          Once you have a job, he’ll likely try and manage that too, if you let him. I’d be very hesitant about even letting him know where it is, if possible, or sharing any information about your work life. He sounds very much like the sort who will be calling your boss when he doesn’t agree with them on something concerning you.

        3. Random Dice*

          1) Stay safe at home

          2) Get a job that brings in money – bartending, administrative assistant, etc. Look into graphic design freelance on the side just to build your resume, if you can manage it

          3) Look for low cost housing (usually multiple roommates)

          4) GTFO! An consider how much (if any) contact you want with your father as an adult

          5) Focus on your career

          6) Lots of lovely therapy to process all of the not-ok patterns your parent(s) instilled in you and how to create healthy patterns for yourself

        4. Dahlia*

          Perhaps using a slightly different name they don’t tell their dad about would be an option as well? Like if you’re Mary Beth Smith, maybe you apply as M. Beth Smith.

        5. BeenThere*

          You could always use the hide my email feature if you are an apple user. You can assign unique emails to each application and they will forward to your actual account. This also can help you see if recruiters and applicant tracking systems are sharing your details.

    5. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      Some applications have a statement that you confirm that you are the person applying and that to your knowledge everything you have submitted is accurate. I don’t know about the legal ramifications though.

    6. Student*

      If it were my parent, I’d be talking to a lawyer about the viability of a cease-and-desist order. Even if I lived with him.

    7. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I was wondering the same thing. But it’s coming from the perspective of “surely there must be a law against this!” rather than any actual relevant knowledge.

    8. JSPA*

      Forgery, but only in that it’s”attempt to deceive,” but with no element of (financial) personal gain (but presumably the letter writer is not looking to convict their dad). Identity theft. Possssssibly some elements of coercive control, especially as it’s making the letter writer less likely to get hired and thus more likely to remain under parental control ( And I’d argue that it perhaps doesn’t matter whether or not that’s the intent, if that’s the obvious outcome.)

      I wonder if a basic “cease and desist” letter from a lawyer might help??? Yes, that’s a strong tactic, but it certainly puts dad on notice exactly how wrong his actions are.

      OP… not all abuse is physical. This level of controlling behavior is really beyond the pale. You may have to let go of the lingering “just trying to help” sympathy, and lean in to exactly how damaging this is.

      Whether he’s controlling or delusional or both, is something to work out later, in therapy, if you feel it would be time well-spent. For now, getting away from the damaging behavior (and far enough away that he can’t anticipate your future job choices) has to be your first order of business.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Your last paragraph CANNOT be stressed enough!

        LW, don’t let “the whys” derail you from getting out of this monkey house and into a saner, healthier life! All that can be for later, and for your benefit. But right now? To quote Cynthia Heimel, “Who cares what this guy’s story is?”

        Why your dad is the way he is is not the problem. He’s trying to make it be, but it isn’t. Your problem is prying him off of your life, not why he’s clutching onto it in the first place.

        1. AllTheBirds*

          You and JSPA are wise. As are so, so many of the commentariat.

          Letter Writer, know that thousands of internet friends wish you well. Come back here on open-post weekends whenever you need a boost or general advice. Best of luck to you.

    9. tamarack etc.*

      It completely rings all my identity fraud bells. I understand that this is hard (my own story in this respect is long and complicated), but the OP should think about cutting as many ties as possible, if necessary with legal and administrative tools at their disposal.

  2. Raging Iron Thunder*

    Wow, so sorry OP. Could you at least show him your cover letter & resume vs his cover letter & resume side by side and show how much worse his looks, and how he is actively damaging your reputation and job prospects?

    Also, get your mom involved, call your grandparents and his other siblings to “get some insight” and “Advice” on how he might stop the behavior. Often times shaming from peer or senior family members will get someone like this to stop.

    1. Salsa Verde*

      These are good suggestions, and also you might get feedback from your other relatives that can give you insights into other ways you can combat this.

      I’m so sorry OP. Dealing with difficult parents is really, really hard.

      1. Sloanicota*

        If I were OP I would also adopt a new professional name, do not tell your father what that is, and apply under that name in the future. It does not have to be a big variation – Alison M. Green, or Ali Green, or A. Mary Green are all options.

        1. London Lass*

          I would take that further, and create an entirely separate identity as far as possible – set up a phone number (cound be a Skype number or similar, or a cheap second SIM) and email address that dad doesn’t know about, and use those for all future applications. If you need a mailing address, maybe see if a friend or relative would allow you to put their address down? That way the identities are distinct, employers won’t immediately connect them, and any responses to applications can easily be identified as genuine versus dad’s. Plus IF dad has some way of monitoring what OP is getting back to her own applications, her won’t see these ones.

          And I completely second those advising to lock down your credit and life in general as well to minimise other types of interference until you can get out entirely.

          1. SomewhereUnderTheSea(OfVPs)*

            This was exactly the thought I had as well. It’s really hard to connect identities on name alone, so any system that’s doing it automatically is probably using one or more of these other fields too. Keeping them different should help.

          2. Emma*

            100% this. The fact that LW is a recent grad helps here, because their resume will be more generic. There are probably a couple of hundred people who graduated from your program in your year, it’s not going to seem odd to a hiring manager to get applications from two different people with similar names, who went to the same college, during recent-grad-job-applications season. On the other hand, if you had a ten year job history that happened to be identical between Firstname Lastname and F Middlename Lastname, that would ring alarm bells.

            1. tamarack etc.*

              I might go so far as to introduce a typo in something like birth date if it needs to be entered somewhere early on in the application (likely not, but…). Get a PO Box, different contact details. Providing legal documents can wait until onboarding.

        2. blood orange*

          +1 This is a great idea! OP, can you go with a nickname and contact info that your father doesn’t know about?

    2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      +1 to the second paragraph. He needs people he respects to tell him he is wrong–and unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to include OP.

      This is also bad enough that I’m wondering if a little “taste of your own medicine,” might be in order, though I can’t think of anything that comes close to this level. Maybe signing him up for volunteer jobs, gyms/workout classes, etc? Sort of a “this is for your health, Dad, which you are clearly neglecting. It’s for your own good, and now you see what it’s like to have no say in your own life.” The problem is that those suggestions aren’t reputation-damaging in the way that his actions are.

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        To go along, as much as I would not want to involve a school professor and/or professional mentor in family drama. I think the risks father poses to OP outweigh getting them involved, but maybe asking a professor or professional mentor to speak to the father and tell him to stop. I can’t imagine anyone taking fault with OP, you can’t control your parents.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yeah, messy as all this is, you’re not the one who looks unprofessional in this situation, OP. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          That’s what I was thinking too. OP mentioned that they have a professional mentor. It highly help if that person is willing to have a meeting with OP and their father and say something along the lines of “hiring managers in our industry value independence and they only ever want to reveive communication from the actual applicant, not from anyone else. If they were to find out that the initial application was sent in by someone other than the applicant, that applicant will be disqualified.”

        3. Anne Elliot*

          One thing I haven’t seen suggested, which frankly is what I would do, is to tell my interfering father that he is wasting his time because I am not going to participate in any job opportunity that I haven’t decided for myself is a good fit and applied for personally. So, Dad, if you want to waste your time shooting out job applications in my name, just know that if any of them ever reach back out to me for next steps, which is unlikely because what you are submitting under my name is not good, I will explain to them that I did not actually apply for the job and decline to be considered in any way. So honestly, Dad, it would be better to just share those job opportunities with me so that I can decide whether to apply or not, because I might actually miss a good opportunity if instead you apply for me. If you apply for me, as God is my witness I will NEVER take that job, under any circumstances.

          You can’t stop him from doing this, but you can decide you won’t permit his actions to have any sort of positive outcome, which might encourage him to stop. (Or maybe not.)

          Also: I wouldn’t be too worried about his crap application interfering with your good application for the same job. At least in my field, the crap applications are weeded out pretty early and the “good” are looked at as a pile. Plus different people have the same names, so unless your name is Constanzia Ludmilla Sausage-Sizzle, I don’t think a first-pass reviewer is going to know or care if the name on a good application is the same or similar as the name on a bad one. I do agree with the advice to start using a different email addy, though, and to not tell your dad what it is. Good luck!

      2. WheresMyPen*

        I wouldn’t start giving him a taste of his own medicine, because he might use it to justify himself, like ‘well you’re doing it to me so of course I’m ok doing it to you’.

      3. Julia*

        I think the “taste of your own medicine” has a high chance of backfiring. It could easily come off like the LW is being childish. Also it sets up a narrative for the dad of “I was trying to help and then my child acted like brat by signing me up for useless things.”

      4. Nina*

        Eh, my siblings and I sign each other up for political party mailing lists (we all have super different views) to be obnoxious/make a point about ‘please don’t make cash donations to the literal Nazis in my name’; it doesn’t work in a ‘see how shitty this behavior is???’ kind of way at all.

    3. T.N.H.*

      It doesn’t look like she sent any of the terrible cover letters to Alison. I bet she’d be willing to give some very harsh feedback to pass along to Dad and maybe it’ll sink in that his multiple fonts are guaranteeing that it’s going into the trash bin.

      1. Spectra Vondergeist*

        I highly doubt someone this unreasonable will care what someone on the internet says about his cover letter skills. We all know Alison is an expert, but this guy already doesn’t trust his child’s judgment and is unlikely to change his mind because a blogger says he sucks.

        Also, critiquing his cover letter is like saying “my problem is your methods, not that you’re doing this in the first place”. Dad might just think “ok, everything will be ok if I use the right cover letter!”

    4. penny dreadful analyzer*

      I don’t think this sounds like a guy who’d be able to assess that one cover letter was worse than another just by having both letters put in front of his face.

      Getting someone higher up in the familial pecking order than OP to intervene might work, though.

    5. Empress Matilda*

      Could you at least show him your cover letter & resume vs his cover letter & resume side by side and show how much worse his looks, and how he is actively damaging your reputation and job prospects?

      I don’t know – I think this would just legitimize Dad’s approach, rather than getting him to back off. The last thing you want is to give the message that what he’s doing would be fine if only he would write a better cover letter! What he’s doing is not fine at all – even if his application materials were vastly superior to OP’s, and even if they resulted in dozens of interviews, it would still not be okay for him to be doing this.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yeah, my fear would be he’d keep doing it because he’d probably read it as you welcoming the help. “But it’s all in papyrus now, not in different fonts!”

      2. learnedthehardway*

        I wouldn’t do it – Dad will just copy / paste the new cover letter and keep on applying for the OP.

        1. Kristi*

          More likely, explain patronizingly that multiple fonts and whatever are objectively far better and that this just proves his approach is correct.

      3. jy3*

        “Of course they’re turning you down if your cover letters are that boring! Did they teach you anything when you were getting that fancy degree?”

    6. Sassy SAAS*

      I would be worried that showing him the right cover letter/resume might make him think “well if I just use the resume/cover letter that she is using already, I can keep applying to jobs for her”. Showing him the one she’s actually using could further backfire on her! Dad is already overstepping, last thing LW needs is to arm him with the actual materials she’s using.

      Could LW make up a fake scenario (based on what could realistically happen) to scare dad off? “Dad, a company I applied to specifically said they would not move forward with my application because they received another application- the one you submitted- and assumed that I am not a competent designer or organized employee because of your application. The help you think you’re giving me has actively caused me to be passed over for this position”. He clearly won’t listen to his own kid, but if there are external consequences that are a direct result of his ‘help’, maybe this will show him how much he’s actually harming LW.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        This was my thinking. He needs concrete proof that he’s harming his daughter’s chances. He might not listen anyway since he seems to think he’s always right, but might be worth a try.

    7. Rex Libris*

      My fear would be that someone overstepping at such an irrational level is not going to suddenly see the error of their ways merely by comparing resumes. I’d worry that the more likely outcome is that it would just give Dad the opportunity to copy the LW’s cover letter and resume style more closely, and apply for more jobs.

      1. Starbuck*

        Yes. He’s already irrational/unreasonable enough that he’s submitting bad materials, on purpose. If he knew the difference between a good and bad cover letter, or cared, he’d already be doing a better job (or wouldn’t be doing this at all). It’s a nice fantasy but it’s not going to work on someone like this.

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        I agree, unfortunately. I have a dad like this — there are many people who can’t reason with. That was/is a hard lesson for me.

    8. Delta Delta*

      This is a great idea. This will not work. Dad doesn’t care about this. Dad needs to be right.

      1. online millenial*

        Yep, this has been an issue with a lot of the recommendations here (joking or not–I suspect most people advising that LW sign Dad up for various things without his permission aren’t truly serious). They would work on someone reasonable who is applying logic to the situation. That’s not what the LW is dealing with. Her dad is starting from the position that he is always right, and *everything* he does will be viewed through that lens. No amount of arguments or examples coming from the LW will matter, because he’s right and he’s decided she’s wrong.

        Having an external authority *might* help, for a while, but as shown with her mom’s interference, at best it’ll make him pause until he decides that LW’s “failure” to get a job means he’s still right and he has to keep “helping.” (Please note that not getting a job isn’t actually a failure and he isn’t at all helping. This is how he sees things.)

        I think the two-pronged approach of switching up the application name/email + finding a temporary job to start saving up money so you can move out is really the best play. I’m sorry your dad is being so utterly awful about this, and that you’re the one dealing with the consequences. It’s not fair. That doesn’t fix anything, I know, but sometimes it can help with the emotional side to acknowledge that what’s happening is wrong and unfair. We’re all pulling for you here in comment land!

    9. Anne Elliot*

      One thing I haven’t seen suggested, which frankly is what I would do, is to tell my interfering father that he is wasting his time because I am not going to participate in any job opportunity that I haven’t decided for myself is a good fit and applied for personally. So, Dad, if you want to waste your time shooting out job applications in my name, just know that if any of them ever reach back out to me for next steps, which is unlikely because what you are submitting under my name is not good, I will explain to them that I did not actually apply for the job and decline to be considered in any way. So honestly, Dad, it would be better to just share those job opportunities with me so that I can decide whether to apply or not, because I might actually miss a good opportunity if instead you apply for me. If you apply for me, as God is my witness I will NEVER take that job, under any circumstances.

      You can’t stop him from doing this, but you can decide you won’t permit his actions to have any sort of positive outcome, which might encourage him to stop. (Or maybe not.)

      Also: I wouldn’t be too worried about his crap application interfering with your good application for the same job. At least in my field, the crap applications are weeded out pretty early and the “good” are looked at as a pile. Plus different people have the same names, so unless your name is Constanzia Ludmilla Sausage-Sizzle, I don’t think a first-pass reviewer is going to know or care if the name on a good application is the same or similar as the name on a bad one. I do agree with the advice to start using a different email addy, though, and to not tell your dad what it is. Good luck!

      1. Lilo*

        What I’m worried about though is him using her name to harass people about jobs. That could cause serious damage.

      2. eye roll*

        It’s not just automated applications getting weeded out early though. It sounds like he’s going out of his way to bother CEOs and executives. He’s turning OP into that crazy person who can’t follow instructions as well.

        1. XF1013*

          I assume that Anne Elliot meant turning down all jobs for which Dad has taken action on OP’s behalf, not just applying but also contacting CEOs and whatever other nonsense he thinks is “helping.”

          1. FrivYeti*

            Yeah, but that won’t work if Dad hits up the *entire industry*, which is what it sounds like he’s doing. Short of changing his name or abandoning his career plans, OP isn’t able to just turn them all down, and the personal calls are a lot more likely to create disastrous reputational problems than the resumes.

      3. Ace in the Hole*

        Your point about the names… unusual names are not nearly as rare as you might think, and may be memorable even if they’re not as outlandish as your example.

        For example, my first name is a common woman’s name spelled in a very unusual way. My last name is uncommon in my country and looks exactly like the name of a nationally well-known corporation (although it’s pronounced differently). Something along the lines of Patrisha Tesla or Synthia Nike. My name doesn’t necessarily pop out in a crowd because it doesn’t sound that unusual, but people often do remember it if they see it. So I’d recommend much more caution about the name unless LW knows her name is quite common… suggestions to go by a different variant (e.g. L. Writer vs Lettie Writer vs Letter Writer) are a very good idea.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          Yeah, there’s absolutely no mistaking me for anyone else in my job applications…

          If I were the hiring manager, and I hadn’t read this letter, not only would I decline to move OP’s true application forward in the process, I would have a “wtf” story I would share with people. And OP wouldn’t have the opportunity to explain the situation.

          UNLESS OP addressed the prior one a la “Please disregard any prior applications in my name. A deeply misguided (and mentally ill) loved one may have submitted their own version under my identity and without my consent.” If I read that on the second, good one, I would totally understand and take that application on its own merits. Hell, even if I wasn’t moving OP forward, I’d still send a personal note wishing them best of luck and sympathy for their plight.

          Since OP doesn’t know which jobs Dad has fucked with, I’m not sure if it would help to proactively put it as a footnote in all of their cover letters or if it would turn off hiring managers who dad hasn’t yet harassed.

          1. Fushi*

            You’re not the only commenter to have done this, so I feel compelled to point out that it’s unnecessary to spice up descriptions of the father with “mentally ill.” Not everyone who is a huge jerk is mentally ill, and perpetuating “mentally ill” as a shorthand for “terrible person who just can’t be reasoned with” is harmful, no matter how convenient.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              I agree that “mentally ill” is not a term that should be used lightly. The way I see it, it’s way kinder to call him mentally ill than to call him a total jerk.
              And it’s not calling him that to his face but to a hiring manager who will probably never meet him even if they hire OP. I really don’t see who OP might be harming by saying something like that.
              And calling someone a total jerk, however justified, will not wash in this situation. Alison always advises against ranting about former bosses, however toxic they may have been, and this is no different. Using insults mostly says more about the person using them than the person they are insulting.

              1. Snell*

                The problem is still that it conflates “mentally ill” with “total jerk behavior”, and although you personally might be compassionate and understanding of mental illness, not everyone is. The complete opposite sentiment is unfortunately very, very, common, and it can’t be taken for granted that any one person holds the same compassion and understanding as you. There are a lot of people who unironically, unabashedly believe that mental illness is a moral failing/character flaw/the sufferer’s own fault, and blaming bad behavior on mental illness reinforces that type of thinking. Even if you have the best of intentions, there’s no reason to put that out in the world.

                I personally have made this same misstep, where I got caught off guard because I assumed most people would have a minimum amount of compassion and understanding with regard to mental illness, but then they…disappointed me. With prejudice. And then they looked around the room expecting everyone to agree with their heinous outlook. Subsequently, our manager also disappointed me with the way it was handled.

      4. penny dreadful analyzer*

        The problem with entertaining this hypothetical is that it’s a hypothetical where the Dad actually gets the LW an opportunity and the LW sabotages it. All this is going to do is feed Dad’s vision that his actions aren’t the sabotage, and make him blow a gasket at how ungrateful the LW is.

        This kind of “and even if” argument might feel good and clever and like extra backup to your point but IMO it would constitute the proverbial “giving an inch.”

        1. XF1013*

          How is that worse than the alternative? Accepting an opportunity that Dad got for LW will *definitely* reinforce Dad’s opinion that he’s right. And Dad is already angry about how “ungrateful” LW is.

          1. penny dreadful analyzer*

            “The alternative” to “pre-emptively announcing that you will not take any opportunity dad procures for you” isn’t “taking opportunities dad procures for you”; it’s just “not pre-emptively announcing anything that entertains the possibility that dad’s actions would procure opportunities for you.”

            I’m saying: Do not go down that conversational road. Do not talk about what you’re totally gonna do if/when Dad’s actions result in a job offer. They won’t; it’s a distraction that does nothing but entertain the possibility that they will.

            1. XF1013*

              That makes sense, thanks. I agree about the danger of acknowledging any possibility, even if only in his imagination, that Dad’s plan could actually produce a job offer. And it’s probably futile to try to use logic to make Dad give up anyway, since he’s acting so unreasonably, as many other commenters have said.

      5. XF1013*

        Anne, I love how your advice gets to the heart of the problem, which is control.

        The problem is not that Dad is going about the job search on OP’s behalf so badly, because even if he was doing it really well, that would still be unacceptable. And it’s not the ethics of posing as someone else, because if OP was fine with that, we wouldn’t have a letter to discuss. And it’s not the treating OP like a child, because he could treat her like a mature adult in all other ways and still refuse to stop applying on her behalf.

        No, the problem is that he has unilaterally decided to take over her job search and won’t relinquish this control. That’s why I appreciate that your advice is the logical course of action for OP, to leverage one power that remains incontrovertibly hers, the power to decline any offer that he somehow manages to get for her. Preemptively rendering his interference futile this way is just such a lovely, direct, cut-to-the-chase solution.

        I wouldn’t recommend that OP actually do this, for the problems cited by other commenters and for the risk that Dad would escalate the struggle for control in scary ways. But I did want to say how much I appreciated the reasoning behind your comment. :-)

    10. TootsNYC*

      yes, I agree with the “reach out to anyone who might be able to influence Dad” concept.
      Relatives who have “seniority” or “equality”; his buddies; other people at church; anyone you can think of.

      Make peer pressure work for you.

    11. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      My only concern about your first suggestion is that I’m not sure he will accept that the LW’s materials are better than his. That kind of approach would work with a reasonable person, but I don’t think we’re dealing with a reasonable person here. One insight that has legit changed my life is from Captain Awkward – reasons are for reasonable people. With unreasonable people, it’s just an opening for them to argue with you more and try to get rid of your objections. But this isn’t a negotiation, he needs to stop.

      But co-signing on getting other family members involved if you think they could help.

    12. JB*

      >Could you at least show him your cover letter. . . how he is actively damaging your reputation and job prospects?

      No, she can’t. This person is irrational. Probably an abusive narcissist. Reason and logic mean nothing to these people. Far more likely outcome is the father would assume her cover letter and materials are wrong and his are so much better.

      Imagine the father is Donald Trump and think about what kind of reaction this would get.

  3. melbelle*

    oh, OP. My dad never did this exact thing, but he has crossed similar boundaries (plural) in the past.

    One thing that helped me was remembering that when he acts unreasonably, I feel the pressure to be the Reasonable One (especially given our respective roles in my family’s toxic system) — stay cool, don’t get mad, don’t hurt his feelings. But what ultimately helped to emphasize how seriously I was affected by his actions? Was losing my shit on him a few times. I didn’t do or say anything I regret, but I raised my voice/cried/did not emotionally moderate myself for his sake. Yes, his feelings were hurt, but ultimately the behavior stopped, which was what was most important to me.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I feel like hurting his feelings, letting him feel disrespected, and going tf off in an act of self-preservation is the far better scenario. If he needs that to stop, then that’s what he needs. Get your mom involved. tell him point by point how badly his work sucks, and most of all, make sure he knows he is at risk of doing permanent damage to your relationship with him and that he is harming your ability to get a job. I would shut him out so hard after that, information-wise and personally.
      In all fairness, my own family dysfunction is that the loudest person wins. But it does work.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. Get your mum involved, speak to him in person as a united front, and tell him this can’t continue. If he gets angry, of course that won’t be pleasant to deal with, but if that’s what gets him to finally stop, it’ll be worth it.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This predicates the scenario that Mom can/wants to be involved, though. If she’s an enabler, I can foresee many outcomes where she tried to get OP to “see reason about Daddy,” or share things the OP told her in confidence with him, or any other triangulation/enmeshment nightmare that can be conjured.

      2. TeamPottyMouth*

        Agreed, but I wonder if OP knows someone I. The industry who can specifically address how the poorly formatted communications may have caused permanent harm to OP’s reputation and reinforce the idea that Dad is not qualified in any way to make these efforts on his daughter’s behalf, even if she’d had WANTED help. He needs to hear feedback from someone who reviews applications with phrases like “I would never hire someone who presented this obviously amateur garbage” and “I honestly thought you were deliberately trying to sabotage her efforts to find work.”
        That message has to come from someone he respects professionally, because clearly he doesn’t respect his daughter, and in my experience, Dads like that don’t respect their wives either, so her voice in this argument is not likely to be instructive on how badly he has misstepped.

    2. Anon for this*

      I despise that I’m saying this and I despise that I live in a world where it is true, but my mother will never grasp that she’s trampling boundaries and hurting me personally and professionally.

      What she does grasp is that backing off is the only way to get the screaming and slamming of things to stop. Melbelle is right; with someone who refuses to grasp boundaries, it’s not an appeal to logic that works, it’s making it too painful for that person to continue that behavior.

      And honestly… change the name/email you apply under and GET OUT as fast as possible!

      1. Prefer my pets*

        I agree with this so much.

        There are some people in this world that “rational discussion” will never, ever penetrate their skulls…only absolutely losing it at them cause a dim flicker of awareness. Thankfully they are few and far between. I had a coworker like this too…I drove me insane at work and I couldn’t figure out how to get through to him. Then we were at an employee appreciation event and I watched his wife ask him to get something for their melting down toddler from the car calmly 3 times while he continued fiddling with their chairs before literally screaming at him to get it…at which point he sulked off to get it muttering “you could have just asked me…” I just shook my head and promptly gave up “calm” with him at work after warning the manager I was going to, which finally got results.

        1. Lily*

          I predict a long and happy marriage for that co-worker /s. (He sounds like my sister’s ex-husband.)

        2. Lils*

          Also came here to make this point. LW has the best of intentions thinking Dad can be convinced with rational arguments about the harm he is causing. But–I am saying this with all compassion as the child of boundary-crossing parents: this will never, ever work. Dad is not about rational arguments and he will not be won over with reason. Making the consequences of the “applying for jobs” behavior more scary/uncomfortable than whatever his current fears are is the ONLY thing that will work. If he fears confrontation, confront him. If he fears emotions, get emotional. If he fears the opinions of his elder relatives or spouse, enlist them. If he fears losing the relationship with LW, threaten that.

          And LW, I know it seems hard, but please, please, please try to get out of their house. I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self: your autonomy and peace of mind are worth a huge amount of scrimping and sharing space and Goodwill shopping and eating macaroni. After I adjusted to moving out, I was very poor but very happy, and wondered why it took me so damn long to do it. They will try to scare you into staying–don’t listen.

          1. Rex Libris*

            A thousand times this. As another child of overbearing, overcontrolling parents, I wish I’d cut the purse and apron strings in my 20s. I just wasn’t mature enough to work through how to handle the financial or emotional burden, but it would have been worth it. My parents have only recently made some progress in not trying to second-guess, argue with, or undermine every life decision I make.

            I’m in my mid fifties.

            1. Lils*

              I’m sorry you experienced this too, Rex. I’m middle aged and still in therapy learning to set appropriate boundaries. It is very, very difficult.

          2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Yes to all of this. If reasons and rational arguments were going to work, they would have worked by now. (Heck, a reasonable person wouldn’t have done this in the first place!)

            He needs to see that there are some kinds of consequences to violating your boundaries.

            And yeah, getting the heck out as soon as humanly possible is a good plan. It will open up more options for you to respond to his boundary violations than if you’re still stuck at home.

          3. goddessoftransitory*

            Peace of mind is worth any amount of ramen.

            I was reading David Sedaris’s Theft by Finding, which is a collection of his diaries, and in one he describes going to the IHOP with a new library book and how happy that made him. It just stayed with me–he was independent and enjoying his life, and it was worth everything he had to do to get there.

        3. Hills to Die on*

          This is hilarious and horrible at the same time. It reminds me of my ex-husband who didn’t listen either and the only way to get him to hear you was creaming. Except he would freak out at you for yelling at him.
          It was just horrible.
          I no longer tolerate people who don’t listen to me / can’t have a normal, functional conversation. my last relationship was great. I could just explain where I was coming from, he did the same, and we could just talk through it.

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        Ugh I get that so hard. My parents are nice, caring, and generous people, but they sometimes struggle with boundaries. I’m fortunate that it’s mostly benign and coming from a good place, but sometimes that makes it even more frustrating. No matter how many times we have a conversation about something, or politely ask them to stop, the only time they ever seem to change their behavior is when I get snippy or sharply tell them to knock it off. It feels like they don’t believe me or think I really care about something unless I’m “passionate” enough to yell about it. And I hate it, no other relationship in my life works this way.

        1. Frankie Bergstein*

          This, times 1000! One lesson I need to teach myself is that if people can’t hear you until you’re yelling and distressed, they’re not interested in listening. If they were curious and interested in what you were saying, they would have asked you and listened to the response. And cared what it was. And maybe even acted on it.

          1. I have RBF*

            Yeah, it took me years to understand that you could argue without yelling, screaming and throwing things – because that is what example I had throughout my childhood. It did not surprise me when my parents got divorced in my teens. I still revert back to it under high enough stress, which is why I strive to be calm, even when stuff is going to hell.

      3. Scarlet2*

        This has been my personal experience as well.
        LW should stop hoping that if only her father understood how much his actions are hurting her, he’d stop. I get it, it’s human to hold on to that hope. But people like that will keep insisting that they’re RIGHT, they’re doing it FOR YOUR OWN GOOD and they know BETTER, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

        Captain awkward is a great resource for escape plans from abusive situations, because LW needs to work on moving out (as far away as possible). I would also recommend to change all your passwords and make sure he has no access to your bank account or official papers.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      My father–not this bad a boundary-crosser but enough of one that I don’t tell him personal things–would take me going off on him as evidence that I’m as immature and unable to manage myself as he thought I was.

      So I’m not saying don’t do it, but definitely think it through first.

      1. irritable vowel*

        Yup, for sure. I removed my father from my life 20+ years ago because of behavior like this from him, and “having a tantrum,” as he would have seen it, would just have reinforced in his mind that I was a child who needed his control and guidance. Ironically, he was always the one more likely to have a tantrum (and then blame it on me or my mom).

        OP, I agree with everyone here saying that getting a part-time job and moving out as quickly as you can, as long as you aren’t taking too much of a financial risk in doing so, is so important.

    4. Hannah Lee*


      I second that as a possible approach. I’ve got a relative who would act unreasonably in ways that negatively impacted me. I’m usually a calm, easy going, talk it through kind of person.
      But one time I’d had quite enough of his nonsense and lost my ship on him. Big emotions, loud voice, crying, all the things (none of it put on … all genuine because of how hurt, frustrated, angry I was over what he’d done. It’s just that my normal MO is to deal with all of that myself)

      He was gobsmacked because I NEVER do that, and he apologized, corrected the behavior. DECADES later, he still remembers the exact conversation, where we were when it happened and has never repeated the particular thing that triggered it. (Other things, maybe LOL)

      1. TootsNYC*

        It’s very common, that calmly objecting is simply not heard, not remembered, not noticed. And that when you finally yell, the person says, “why didn’t you say something sooner?” or “you should have told me.” Even though you did. Because they didn’t evem really register it.

        This doesn’t have to be gendered, but it absolutely can be. There are stories galore of wives who finally blow up at husbands who act as though this is the first time. I’ve even deliberately yelled and said, “I’m yelling because you haven’t listened the three times I’ve asked nicely.” It can go the other way, but I bet that’s far less common, because women get the message that they’re responsible for pleasing the men in their lives.

        But it can also very much be parent/child. The parent doesn’t really pay attention to the child as a person worthy of respect.

        Throw in a gender mismatch, and you cna really have it.

        So–this is a shitty dynamic, but now’s the time to use it FOR you.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I remember reading a magazine article years ago where a wife deliberately drove her car through their living room wall to express her built up rage at how her husband never listened to her!

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Wow, that’s really dramatic. Did it work on that occasion? More importantly did the husband continue to listen to her after this one incident? (Driving through walls gets expensive and at some point the house might not recover from the damage.)

    5. TootsNYC*

      I agree with this–get flamingly angry. And express it.

      You’re entitled to; it’s actually the reasonable response. And until you do, he doesn’t really see any negative consequences.

      Swear, even. Yell.

  4. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    Good God. It’s letters like this that make me so appreciative of my own family. I cannot conceive that anyone I’m related to would be so disrespectful. I honestly don’t know if I could continue to have a relationship with someone like this. I don’t have any advice to give unless you could appeal to others who might have an influence over your father such as his parents or his siblings. Good luck.

    1. English Rose*

      Exactly what I was thinking about how wonderful my own family are – even if a bit complex sometimes.

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Right? My family members aren’t perfect, but they *believe me* when I tell them about my own life.

    3. No Longer Gig-Less Data Analyst*

      I agree – as a parent of an adult child I’m horrified.

      The only thing I did for my daughter when she was struggling to find a profession position after graduating in 2020 was to (with her permission) make a post on my LinkedIn that if anyone in my network knew of any entry level positions, I’d love a heads up that I could pass on. Someone did, I thanked them profusely, and my daughter took it from there with no further input or action from me.

      Oh, and I also helped her identify postings/emails for scam jobs, because IME it takes a while to be able to recognize them while job hunting.

      OP, I agree with the others that you need to start figuring out how to move out and get your dad on an information diet ASAP. And I am so, so very sorry that you are going through this.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        When my son was looking for his first job post graduation, I sent him links to Alison’s excellent posts on resumes and cover letters. My husband and I stayed out of it otherwise, except for helping him recognize scams when he saw them.
        I think the OP should change their professional name, their email address and get a secondary phone number. Anything they can do to separate themselves from whatever Dad is sending out will be helpful. Plus it’s a change they can make whereas changing Dad isn’t going to happen.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I had a friend once who told me she’d run into her mother around town and it ruined her day. I was kind of puzzled–ruined your whole day?

      Then I went to Passover with her, and every comment out of her mother’s mouth was a jab at someone, usually her.

      I came home and went straight to the phone to call my mother and thank her for just being a nice person.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I cannot conceive of a scenario where I would do this to a family member, even as some kind of revenge thing, unless I was a cast member on a soap opera! It is astounding that a person could come up with this as a way of “helping” anybody.

  5. Kat*

    How pathological. Hard agree to tell him you’ve decided to change fields. Move out as soon as possible.

    1. Labrat*

      I had a coworker who’s sister decided he’d been in the lab long enough and forged an application for a state job that required an MBA. If dad finds the field OP is going into acceptable, he’ll still apply for it.

    2. P*

      And tell him you’ve been forced to do so because his actions have irreparably damaged your reputation in the industry. Say one company mentioned it to you. If he’s not horrified at the result at least you’ll know he’s actively attempting to sabotage you

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I’d tell him I was switching to making goat cheese in a cave in France with no cell service.

  6. harvey 6'3.5"*

    While I agree with Allison, the problem is independently applying without involving the kid. So I’ll admit that I’ve helped my son apply to jobs, but never without him being in the room directing me on what to type, what resume to send, what the cover letter says, etc. He is the boss, I am the typist. And if the company, for whatever reason, doesn’t appeal to him, he doesn’t apply.

    I do wonder if the child could try, one time, to collaborate with the father in this way, and see if the father can understand why the child needs to do it themselves and present accurate information on their resume, cover letter, and writing style.

    Even if the father did write more stylishly than the kid, that wouldn’t be helpful because it means the application materials wouldn’t reflect the actual style of the future employee. We’ve read stories where someone else sat in the interview (and my wife has experienced this in interviewing people) and if they are onboarded and actually don’t know what they are supposed to, the job won’t work for that person.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I say this gently but unless there is a reason an individual requires assistance applying, such as a disability that makes applying online difficult, there really is no reason to assist your child with actually applying for jobs.

      It is a problem whether the child knows about it and is ok with it or not. Independent adults should be applying for jobs on their own.

      1. Simon (he/him)*

        Agreed, and inviting the dad to collaborate on applications with OP will likely not make him stop- if anything, it seems like that will just confirm that His Help Is Needed and will make him continue or up his efforts. This comment seems to assume that he’s a reasonable parent trying to help when that’s clearly not the case.

        1. Lils*


          Dad is not reasonable. Dad is in no way reasonable. I can guarantee that trying to collaborate with Dad will be an absolute shitshow and a nightmare for LW’s mental health.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            100%. This is just giving dad more opportunities to get into arguments with the LW about her career, applications, etc.

      2. Butterfly Counter*

        Yes, thank you.

        I’m also bristling at the term “child.” The OP and almost everyone looking for jobs at this level are adults. I know parents think of their sons and daughters as their children (and they are!), but in this context, “child” is just furthering the infantilization.

        My parents, other than let me know of job opportunities they had special knowledge of, never helped me at all with my jobs. Even when I was a 14 year-old neighborhood babysitter.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Agreed. I have a 22 year old about to graduate who got her first job at 15. Even at 15 I shared the job with her because I knew she was looking but applying, deciding what to wear, interviewing and then navigating her first job was all on her unless she asked.

          Mostly I listen and offer encouragement. I generally don’t offer advice unless asked although I will occasionally ask if I can share some info. I’m honored when she does ask for my input. Yes she is my child, but she’s also an adult. And as an adult she’s entitled to make her own choices.

          I’m not trying to claim I’m some perfect parent – I’ve screwed up navigating the transition from parenting a child to be an adults parent. And I’m sure I will again.

          You raised your kids to be capable adults – so let let them be capable adults.

        2. Random Bystander*

          I’m laughing now–just the other night, my youngest son (now 22) was bemoaning the “extended childhood” after he had been specifically recruited to help with the church youth group (teens) but the other adults (40s and 60s) were not treating him like a true adult member of the leadership of the group. Youngest son has his own vehicle, credit cards, job, and health insurance–it’s just with the current economy he’s not able to move out, but we’re relatively separate from each other in the house.

          Although I do wonder if the use of “child” was an effort to gender-neuter rather than infantilize. Still, I agree that individuals old enough to work formal jobs (vs babysitting, lawnmowing, snow shoveling, etc) ought to be doing all the work of applying for the job.

        3. tamarack etc.*

          Indeed. Helping a teenage minor to get a summer job? OK, sure. But an adult who has no impairment? In the best case (for him) he gets an unfair advantage at landing a job that he can grow into and successfully hold, but becomes a less mature and ethical colleague who has a heightened expectation that others cater to his needs. But it may also backfire quite spectacularly for the son in question.

          1. Shurik OHY*

            If you are well connected in your field why not? All this advice is very American. In my country parents help their adult children get jobs.

            1. Marley's Ghost*

              Having connections is a very different thing (though see the recent “nepo baby” letter for how that can be a problem, too). The LW is clearly not applying for jobs in the field their father works in.

      3. irene adler*

        If working together with the father can curtail him from submitting applications on his own, it might be worth it-for a limited period of time.

        Maybe if the father sees just how much work the OP puts into applying (tailoring the resume, creating a cover letter, etc.) he will see that his own efforts aren’t up to snuff.

        It also may be that the father doesn’t think the OP is “doing enough” to find a job – and he’s going remedy that himself. Probably genuinely thinks he’s helping out. It’s too bad he won’t heed the OP’s request to stop. He forces things like the OP putting him on an information diet which will result in him missing out on things down the line. But that is squarely his own fault.

      4. Devo Forevo*

        It’s a tempting solution, though, when you have been filling out online applications for hours and need a break!

      5. Captain Swan*

        Agreed. I have helped my daughter apply for part time jobs precisely because she has a disability and was intimidated by Indeed and online job application sites. But we did everything together or she did it and I stayed nearby for moral support.
        If it hadn’t been for the disability, she would have been doing it on her own.
        When she starts applying for professional jobs after college she will also be applying on her own.

        In this case, collaboration is likely to cause more problems and I would think an information diet and moving out ASAP is probably the best way forward.

    2. AllTheBirds*

      “I’ve helped my son apply to jobs, but never without him being in the room directing me on what to type, what resume to send, what the cover letter says, etc.”

      You really need to help your child learn to do this by himself. Whether he’s 16 or 26, these are crucial life skills. Don’t rob him of them.

      1. TaraGreen89*

        Indeed. I mean I assist my younger brother (in college) with his internship applications – but my (solicited by my younger brother) role in this situation is to act as a second eye. That is, he sends me a link to the internship position description and a copy of the resume & cover letter he has already written and plans to send in for the job. I will skim both documents to see if there is a formatting error or grammatical/spelling error he has missed (and highlight in google docs what he needs to fix), and if I think he needs to tailor the cover letter to more precisely address the job/internship description I will add a short comment to the cover letter where I note that he might want to do this/offer a suggestion as to how he might do that.

        This is (at least in my opinion) an acceptable familial level of involvement in the application process when you want to help a young person just entering the job market. I am not actively looking for/applying to positions, I don’t keep track of deadlines for him, and I don’t write his letters or resume for him. I’m not doing the job for him, but I serve as a fairly hands off copyeditor.

      2. triss merigold*

        Yeah, my sibs and I will some run application materials by each other, or ask a parent “do you think they’re asking for x or y here?” but unless there’s a particular need for it, dictating TO a parent (or partner or relative) seems like a thing to move on from.

    3. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      They aren’t a “child” any longer. Yes OP is their parent’s child, but they are an adult and can apply themselves.

    4. Rex Libris*

      No disrespect intended at all, but I can’t help wondering if they can’t manage the job application on their own, how will they ever manage the job?

      1. Mid*

        We don’t know anything about the Harvey’s child, or about the jobs they’re applying for. There are plenty of jobs that require applications that don’t need writing or typing skills, and I know plenty of people who have next to zero computer skills but successful careers. It could be that Harvey’s child uses assistive technology that didn’t work on the job applicant site, that they had two broken hands while applying, that they do better speaking out loud instead of writing and asked for assistance because it was causing anxiety, they’re dyslexic and wanted help spell checking, they were just tired that day and Harvey’s offered to help, or any other number of reasons that don’t prevent them from being employed.

        1. Rex Libris*

          We don’t know anything but what was presented in the comment, which didn’t allude to any of the things you’re speculating about. Not saying they aren’t possible, just that I was reacting to the comment as written.

        2. harvey 6'3.5"*

          Thanks for the comment. The kid is very much an oral learner and the jobs are trade jobs, not requiring any computer skills at all. But even with that, I agree with the comments that I should step back, because independence is very important.

      2. kitryan*

        I, an adult, sometimes have issues getting started with personal tasks – job applications, doing my taxes, that sort of thing, and having someone work with me on something that I’m having trouble with, prompting me, being a sounding board when I’m anxious about something, and sitting with me while I do it can often get me over that hump.
        This is not an issue with work as the structure of work is sufficiently different.
        I could see a parent or partner doing this with someone who has a similar issue, and would not consider that to be an overreach or an indicator that the person couldn’t handle a job.

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          I recently offered to help my friend with applications he had a mental block on (he has successfully applied to and secured many jobs, better than any I’ve had, in the past, without any help from me) because he was burnt out. I literally offered to type into ATSes for him while he wrote his cover letters, both to do the work itself and for body-doubling (the ADHD term for having someone just be with you during a task for motivation purposes). This was in addition to my usual offers of reading over resumes and cover letters. He did not end up taking my offer, as he decided to quit his job without something lined up while he applied for new jobs, but he was open to it.

          When you have never done or succeeded at a big job search before, with our current culture of listing “entry level” jobs as requiring x years of experience, applying for jobs for the first time can feel like screaming into the void. Even just having someone with you that first time can be very helpful, especially if you have a dysregulated attention/motivation system, either from a disorder or from stress or burnout. If you’re truly offering only what the commenter says she was, helping get someone to the end of their first successful job search can be an excellent lesson for future searches.

    5. Pink Candyfloss*

      This is a case where the person will then assume they have carte blanche to continue to bulldoze over boundaries – trying to acclimate in this way will only make it worse.

      I would not do anything like this.

    6. noname12345678*

      harvey 6’3.5″*, I’ve done this for my young adult child, too. We’ve sat down together, I’ve asked him where he wanted to apply, he gave me names of places, I found the links online, and I typed while he told me what to put down. He suffers from ADHD and poor executive skills functioning and if I didn’t do this with him, he would never apply for anything and just sit at home, frozen with indecision. But this father has gone way past what is appropriate and has entered the realm of both fraud and abuse.

    7. Clara*

      Infantilising him like this is just making him lazy and unprepared for the actual workforce. Are you expecting him to do phone screenings with you on speakerphone in the room as well? He’s not the boss, he’s the candidate. If he can’t get the job without you, he shouldn’t have it.

  7. Dr. Rebecca*

    My flabber is officially gasted. Good god. *pouring the OP a stiff drink of their choice/and/or other coping mechanism through the internet*

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      My gob is similarly thoroughly and utterly smacked, and I will raise my virtual glass to the OP as well.

  8. KareBear*

    An idea: what about making a new name/email/etc and using that to apply. A lot of people don’t go by their legal names (I work with many people that don’t, I know there legal name is something totally different, not just a shorten version). Then set up a new email etc that your Dad can’t access/doesn’t know (if he knows your current one). Then if any company asks about it you can cite that is a different person (as it is).

    I would assume he will never stop and his judgement is so unbelievably bad and he has shown he doesn’t care about your opinion. Hope you can move out soon!

    1. Silver Robin*

      This sounds like a decent tactic to take, along with several others mentioned. It might not help with places OP already applied to, but it can certainly help going forward.

      1. Sara M*

        Yes! Sometimes I use my “Starbucks name” as a first name in places where I don’t want to use my unique and identifiable first name.

        If you keep the same last name, you don’t need any legal action or anything–you can just do this. And you get to pick a name you’ve always liked.

        1. Sara M*

          PS if asked, I say it’s my middle name. If asked why my middle name doesn’t match my paperwork, I say I have two middle names. But this is rare.

    2. Bex*

      I also came here to suggest this! Could get awkward if the letter writer doesn’t want to go by a different name once they actually have a job, but even adding a middle initial or middle name might be enough given that Dad’s application materials are bad and LW’s are more polished. If I were reviewing applications and came across a Fergus John Anderson with a clean-looking resume and well written cover letter, and a Fergus Anderson with a weirdly formatted resume and poorly written cover letter, I think I’d assume the names were a weird coincidence and not think about it further.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        Or a well-written resume from F. John Anderson that is in notable contrast to the awful resume from Fergus Anderson.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        I wouldn’t be concerned by what name the LW actually wants to use once in the job. I’ve had people I’ve hired who once they were at work simply said “actually, I go by Sally instead of Samantha” Aside from making sure the legal ID, payroll, work permit stuff was all in order, it was NBD.

        Any payroll, HR systems I’ve seen have a field for “preferred name” or “call name” or something similar so, for example, the person with Julius Broderick Jones on his W4/Payroll record is known as JB Jones by everyone he works with.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Here in the South, people seem to like names with no relationship to anything on their birth certificate. Julius Broderick Jones will be known to everyone he works with as Fred for no apparent reason.

    3. Ugh, (some) Parents*

      This was my first thought too. You could use initials in place of a first name or your mother’s maiden name if you wanted, just to get through the initial first stage. If it comes up for some reason in the interview process (like in reference checks) or you understandably want to use your legal name in a new job, you can explain that someone was applying to jobs using your name and you wanted to ensure your applications were not conflated.

      So sorry OP! Obviously the root issue is that your dad needs to stop doing this. I’m sorry you’re having to figure out how to work around him.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        ” can explain that someone was applying to jobs using your name and you wanted to ensure your applications were not conflated”

        Definitely the narrative to go with moving forward, if nothing else.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, I think this is the way to go. Even just a nickname & different email address would help to prevent his applications from being immediately/undeniably matched to yours.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly what I was thinking. A nickname- so instead of going by John R. R. Tolkien, you have J. Ronald Tolkien as the name on your resume (or even Ron Tolkien- it’s okay to leave your name off your resume entirely).

        Change your email to go with this.

        Do no tell your parents that you’ve done this. Your dad has already shown that he will cross that boundary, and your mom might feel obligated to tell him what you are doing.
        Good luck!

    5. Alicent*

      My partner also goes by a different name! Her legal name only came up to confirm her identity when signing paperwork—nobody gave her a hard time about it, or even commented on it. This is a great idea.

      1. ferrina*

        My boss goes by a different first/last name at work than her legal name! Her first name is a nickname of her legal name, and the last name she uses is her husband’s (though her legal name is her maiden name). She explained to HR so they could file the correct legal documents, and it’s never come up in any other context.

      2. cncx*

        Same. Due to a legal snafu I’m stuck momentarily with my ex husband’s name legally, so my ID is first name that dude’s name,
        but at work I’m middle name maiden name.

        HR just wanted a paper with all my names and it was fine.

    6. EMP*

      I was also going to suggest this! It doesn’t have to be a crazy change, just enough that it’s less likely to be flagged as the same applicant in a company’s system (Nickname M.I. Lastname, for example, instead of Firstname Lastname)

    7. Dino*

      I wondered about keeping her name the same, but setting up a professional website that shows up if her name is googled. She could showcase her skills that way, and maybe could post a disclaimer behind a link that someone unauthorized is applying to places using her name, but not using her materials. Or some other disclaimer? Just spitballing here.

      1. Tio*

        Eh, it’s not a bad idea, but most hiring managers aren’t going to google what looks to them like a weak candidate.

      2. Constance*

        If she’s looking for work in graphic design, she should probably have a portfolio anyway. If Dad is including links to it in his resumes and cover letters, she might want to dump it and create a new one with a new link.

    8. Hills to Die on*

      That’s a good idea! Get a google voice number, a new email, and if they notice the resume similarities, tell them that your identify has been stolen and you have not been able to stop it even though it makes no logical sense. It’s true! That way you have separate contact info and you can have plausible deniability.

    9. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Whoops, didn’t see this and suggested the same thing upthread (with bonus burner phone addition). The more distance the LW can put on their resume from the version their dad is floating, the better.

    10. Blank*

      Chiming in to agree that this is a great time to start shaping a professional identity that is under a name you’ve chosen for yourself, rather than what your father expects you to be using. Good luck, OP!

    11. Goddess47*

      Exactly what I was coming to say. Start a new email with a variation of a name you want to use and NEVER tell either parent what it is. Your mother is enabling your father and, sorry, neither can be trusted.

      Using a variation of your name, or go ahead and be ‘Buffy’ or ‘Hermione’ or whatever, if you want, will further separate your identity.

      Then anything that comes to your ‘everyday’ email can be suspect.

      The suggestions of Google phone numbers, etc, are also good ones.

      Good luck!

    12. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, this is an excellent suggestion. You cannot reason with unreasonable people. All you can do is go around them, and this is a good way to do it. Control the flow of information as much as possible (meaning: try not to tell your father anything at all).

    13. BluntBunny*

      Yes I was wondering how he was impersonating her. Is he hacking into her email/LinkedIn going onto her laptop when she leaves the room?
      I would change my password and change email accounts and block him on everything.
      Also if possible if you know of any he has applied for could you create a fake email/LinkedIn account pretending to be a hiring manager/recruiter. Send him an email that the application submitted was poor.

  9. CatCat*

    You definitely should NOT do this, but gosh, how tempting it would be to start applying for jobs on your dad’s behalf with shoddy application materials.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Haha that’s funny! Or start emailing his work with what he says about his job and coworkers at home.
      Get a job there and submit work as ‘his’.
      It’s nice to think about. I don’t seriously recommend. It sure would slam your point home though.

    2. Odditor*

      I wonder if even just raising this as a possibility would make OP’s dad understand what he’s doing on a level he can’t currently grasp. Especially if he has any kind of professional network of his own.

    3. Grammar Penguin*

      Yes, and make sure his current employer somehow finds out “he” is applying elsewhere. Let him experience the effect of someone posing as him professionally.

  10. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

    This is a hail Mary, but do you by any chance have a name that can be switched a bit? For example, if your dad is using “Charlotte Smith” on his fake resumes, could you use “Charli F. Smith” instead? And set up a separate email address. It’s possible that seeing a different name and email at the top of two very differently-designed resumes will make them think it’s two people with similar names.

    1. theothermadeline*

      Oh I like this idea – new email, google phone number, don’t list your address, different version of your name. Education dates would be the same but not enough for someone to think these are the same people

      1. Presea*

        And differentiate the resumes as much as possible. Use any alternate titles, different date formatting/different levels of precision, get creative and change everything available to change.

        I’m so sorry you’re going through this OP!

    2. Cait*

      This is exactly what I was going to suggest. Change your name slightly, get a new email just for applications, and maybe change your phone number or get a burner for the time being.

      That should be enough to quell any red flags that might pop up in places your dad applied.

  11. theothermadeline*

    Hoo boy. If it gets to the point of needing a nuclear option is there some kind of focused restraining order that OP can get?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m also wondering what kind of nuclear option might be available. In theory this is a kind of professional sabotage anyone could do to another person. IANAL but could there be any legal protection?

      Of course the consequences of that might still be very real from a personal perspective, if you’re under your dad’s roof. But there might be a professional shield of some kind.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        In some jurisdictions this would be illegal as impersonation, identity theft.

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          Someone above mentioned a sternly-worded cease-and-desist letter from an attorney may have an effect. Even if no other legal action is realistic or likely, this would be the first step with anything that is, right?

          Yes, it’s a tactical-level nuclear option to sic a lawyer on your dad. This situation may well call for that.

    2. Scarlet2*

      How on earth can you get a restraining order against someone you share a house with and how would that help re. impersonating LW by email/letter?

  12. Ankle Grooni*

    So sorry this is happening to you. It really does undermine your confidence and is creating a rift between you and your parent.

    One way I can suggest to avoid the double applications is maybe to create a different email address, specifically to use for your job search, and then maybe using a nickname or your middle name in the name field. The applicant tracking systems that I have used flag duplicate applications based on the email or show when a name matches. Your resume or cover letter can list your actual name (you can call it your professional name).

    You will also be able to tell when a notification from a company comes from your own efforts or your parent’s misdirected attempts at control based on which inbox it goes to.

    You do need to put up really strong boundaries regarding your move into adult life. You may need to practice being a gray wall when you are pressed for answers regarding your new position or details about compensation and benefits. Your goal is to be independent and it may require putting space between you and your parents. But that’s hard to do without steady income.

    Best of luck

    1. Jellyfish Catcher*

      So sorry to hear about this – but you’ll ultimately prevail.
      Any attorneys weighing in here? Is this fraud, harassment or anything?
      The LW is living at home now, but the info may be helpful for the future.
      I doubt that dad will stop meddling when they get a job.

      Tell your parents nothing and the same for anyone who would blab to your parents: not where you work, not the general location, not your new address either, when you move.
      Alison, what’s your advice regarding sending in applications with a new
      email address and a modified name?

  13. Lacey*

    Oh I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this OP!

    One thing that will hopefully help you is that a LOT of places are not paying that close of attention to the candidates whose applications were such a bad fit that they got an auto-reject or that come through improper channels.

    For example, I was encouraged to apply for my current job while there was no opening, by someone at the company who knew there would be one soon. I never heard back.

    So when there was an opening I almost didn’t apply. But I was desperate and thought it couldn’t hurt.

    Not only did it not hurt, no one with hiring power was even aware I’d applied previously.

    It’s not the exact same, but hopefully your dad’s bad applications aren’t even get seen.

  14. StressedButOkay*

    Oh, OP, I’m so sorry. I’m wondering if you can change up some of the contact information on your actual resume and cover letter so that if “his” resumes end up at the same organization, you can say it’s not you – because it’s not!

  15. Lavender*

    Ugh, I’m sorry this is happening. My dad did this to a lesser degree when I was applying to grad school—he didn’t apply anywhere for me (thankfully), but he did reach out to schools on my behalf without my consent. (He also didn’t go to grad school himself, so he didn’t know what kinds of questions would even be helpful to ask when trying to choose a program.) Then once I got into a program (on my own!) and was looking for housing in the area, he made a fake profile on a flat-share website pretending to be a college student so he could “help me look.” It felt super invasive and didn’t help me at all. He did eventually back off, but only after my mom talked to him. I’m sorry you’re dealing with something similar!

  16. Someone Else's Boss*

    Allison’s advice is great, as always. I would also suggest lying. Tell your dad that you’re working with a career counselor who has helped you design an approach to apply for jobs that works well in today’s climate and your field. Share that the career counselor is concerned about double applications, and that if your dad wants to help, you’d welcome him forwarding job opportunities your way, rather than applying himself. I would also recommend telling him that “My career counselor has connections in the industry, and it looks like you applied as me for a job that I’d also applied to, and that lost me the opportunity.” That may help him see that he can’t just do this behind your back without negative ramifications. If this is coming from a good place of wanting to help you, he should see that this makes him look insane.

    1. HugeTractsofLand*

      +1. Dad sounds like the kind of guy who only believes something if “an authority figure” says it, given that he’s completely ignoring his own adult child.

    2. ferrina*

      I like this idea- I’ve used similar when my parents decided that I didn’t count as a person, and suddenly “my boss” or “my professor” or “my older coworker who just happens to be the same age as Parents” was saying the same ideas I was. It slowed them down at least.

      You could also do the true version of this- write to your school’s career counseling program and see if someone there can work with you. It may provide you enough cover to get him to stop.
      I’m so sorry you’re going through this, LW.

    3. Regina*

      Yeah, I think it is 100% ok to lie to someone who violates boundaries this blatantly. I might even go so far as to use those graphic design skills to fake a letter from a concerned employer rejecting you because 0f multiple applications under the same name, or something like that.

    4. Odditor*

      And if it makes you feel better, OP, this isn’t lying. This commentariat functions as an anonymized professional support group. Alison is a trusted source. You have carte blanche to cite any of this advice as coming from a counselor, mentor, network connection, whatever.

  17. Not Australian*

    OMG, OP. I’m sure you’ve thought of this, and there’s probably a good reason why you haven’t yet tried it, but is there any chance of you moving away? Not just out of your parents’ house, I mean, but to another part of the country altogether? You need to break away from your father and his interference, and maybe your mother would be willing to help you do that. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s difficult to imagine how you could possibly make a life and a career for yourself when the odds are so deliberately being stacked against you. Whatever you decide, I wish you the very best of luck – and that’s from someone who had massively controlling parents who never *quite* went this far, thank goodness….

    1. Miss Ann Thropy*

      Agreed. Father is not going to change. He has been told that what he’s doing is wrong and damaging, and he doesn’t care. OP needs to be out of range of his control. A temporary job enabling OP to move out ASAP is in order.

    2. Nina*

      OP is gonna need to get a job that pays her money before she can do that. Sounds like she is working her butt off on that front right now.

      I’ve had controlling parents and lived with them during college. ‘Escaping’ isn’t as easy as it sounds. My brother joined the army to get away aaaaaaand then had a psychotic break and got stuck with the parents again.

  18. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

    LW, if you are able to access and afford it I cannot recommend enough enlisting the help of a good therapist when you are working on setting boundaries with an overbearing or unreasonable parent. I suspect this may not be the first time your dad has overstepped and you have found yourself trying to find the right words to explain to him the harm he is causing you, believing if you just find the right words he will have to understand and change his behavior. I’ve been there and I’m sorry to tell you there is no magic explanation and Allison is absolutely right. You probably can’t persuade him to stop (but if your mom can help make that happen, great), but you are at a point in your life where establishing boundaries around your new adult life will be a great protection to you over time. Therapy is a great place to learn how to do that and start practicing the hard steps that are coming. Good luck to you and I’m so so sorry you are dealing with this on top of the stress of your job search. You aren’t a failure. Keep at it.

    1. ferrina*

      Seconding this! First thing to do is to get yourself out of the house- LW is working on that with the job search, but it really sucks when it’s slow going. (I’ve been there- not the exact same situation, but stuck with living with someone who wasn’t healthy for me because I couldn’t afford to move out and had no other options).

      If you can, work with a therapist. If you can’t afford it, you can also try the YouTube experts. There’s a number of licensed therapists that post videos. Find the one that resonates with you- I suspect this is only the tip of the iceberg with Dad.

  19. Michelle Smith*

    This makes me so angry. I want to recommend OP reach out to these companies to apologize and explain or to post a warning on their LinkedIn page about Dad’s application materials, but I get that those are probably poor choices. It just frustrates me to no end that this man is sabotaging his own child in this way. Who does that???

    Please send him this article so he can see Alison’s objective advice. Please also strongly consider whether you can move in with someone else. A friend, a family member, just anyone who’d be willing to let you sleep on their couch for a few months while you get a job. Even if you have to take a survival job in the meantime to afford to do that, you should strongly consider it. I strongly suspect once you’re no longer his financial responsibility, he’ll have less incentive to sabotage your career under the guise of helping you.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Yes – send the post with comments so he can see how many people are advising her to get away from him physically, emotionally, professionally, etc. Maybe that will get through to him.

      1. Gracely*

        No, don’t, because it won’t get through to him, but it WILL give him info about her escape plans if she makes any.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Nothing will get through to him because he is not a rational person. A rational person would not be doing this in the first place. But if for some reason they did, a rational person would be mortified by the response. An irrational person will just dismiss it as random internet people who don’t know anything but HE DOES.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Do not send him this article. She needs to follow the advice which is mostly — don’t let him know what you are up to. If she shows him the article, he will know.

      Also I would not pre-emptively reach out to companies or put anything on LinkedIn. Employers don’t want to get dragged into this mess. Even if dad already is putting them in it, by calling it out, it just makes more drama. LW needs to lowkey it — use a different name, use a friend’s address, things like that.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        100% agree with this. You cannot make unreasonable people see reason, and facts won’t convince someone who is so sure of being right.

        Preemptive explanations to possible employers are unnecessary and would just stir things up. If your father’s material is as bad as you say, it’s been tossed and (hopefully) forgotten.

        Best of luck to LW.

    3. Starscourge Savvy*

      OP absolutely should NOT send him this post, and especially should not include the comments! That goes directly against the advice!

      OP – do not give him any extra ammunition against you. Showing him this post would be like giving him the roadmap of how you plan to extricate yourself from his influence. Pull back, like Alison suggests. As little information as possible. There are some other good suggestions here, and by all means explain to him exactly how he is ruining your job search, but don’t actively let him know you are keeping information from him like that.

    4. Samwise*

      Who does this?

      Sadly, more people than you might think.

      I’ve spent several decades of working with college students, and I don’t know which is worse: the boundary-crushers liked this father, or the parents who don’t give a f*** about their kids and give them nothing (I don’t mean money, I mean attention, I mean caring, I mean love)

      I don’t understand parents of either sort. And I despise both kinds. It breaks my heart.

  20. Charlie Rose*

    It might be helpful for the LW have a small speech prepared if or when she is questioned about the second, weaker application. Could she try and brush it off as shock that someone has been copying her? Any suggestions on how she could handle that in an interview/hiring process?

    1. Ellis Bell*

      “I have only submitted one application but you’re not the first person to say something like this. I’m a bit concerned that someone is copying my identity and any details you could give me would be great”. Hand all the evidence straight to mum.

    2. Milfred*

      I’d say something along the lines of:

      Someone has been applying in my name at different companies as a practical joke. It’s amazing so many people on the internet have nothing better to do.

      Change the email on your future applications.

      Change your name on future applications & your resume. Jane Smith –> Jane D. Smith. Or, Jane D. Smith –> Jane Doe Smith.

  21. LoV...*

    “poorly formatted with different font styles and sizes”

    And you work in the graphic design field? Oh dear. I feel for you and I’m sending positive thoughts your way. Good luck!

  22. Smithy*

    As someone who had parents who meddled – but nothing like this – OP, just so much sympathy about how distressing this can be. Because it’s so hard to both be seeing this as an act of parental love and parental harm. Which in addition to being confusing, upsetting and distressing – is also something you can barely control. If control at all.

    With that in mind, one aspect AAM doesn’t mention is whether or not your dad has a copy of your current or old resume/CV? If so, I’d take the time to reformat it and perhaps rethink how its rewritten. Anything you can do to make it all the more clear that whatever materials your dad sends are not from you. Even if right now they still have similar information, they won’t look the same in addition to not having your cover letter materials. It might also be worth creating a new email address that you use for job applications that he doesn’t know about – so if a company receives a resume with from your dad, they wouldn’t automatically connect it to your submission a few years later.

    I will also add that I’ve had a largely public LinkedIn account without containing that much detail on my jobs. So it’ll just list 2020-2022 Manager at Llama Grooming Inc. It’s kept me very present and visible on LinkedIn, without having any detail anyone could copy/paste into a resume. Which again….if your dad ever wanted to try this again in a couple years by updating whatever materials he has on you now. You can keep a public professional profile without making that information available.

    1. AllTheBirds*

      After re-reading the letter, I feel like the dad created his own application materials; OP says that dad doesn’t have a copy of her cover letter.

      Which makes it easier for OP to use her (better, professional) materials and just update them with a modified name and new email address. Then at least, she’ll be applying “on her own” without a chance of duplicated names.

  23. Coffee Snob*

    I like the idea of signing him up to volunteer and for exercise classes. Something to use up his obviously- excessive free time!

    I gather / hope he does not have access to your email or indeed accounts and is just going online with a fake account. Jeez! yes egregious.

    Also second the idea of talking with grandparents aunts, uncles for help. Adding in all his friends. With an added plea of . please take him out for golf or something.

    God Speed.

  24. OrigCassandra*

    As you already know and Alison’s response reinforces, OP, your father is undermining and damaging your job search in a horribly inappropriate and encroaching fashion. So the suggestion I am about to make is not meant to minimize how wrongly he’s acting — rather, to corral the damage while you get yourself employed (and, I hope, away from him for good).

    Is there a way to deflect his time and effort into something that is harmless to your search? Something like, “here are these five job boards [that you wouldn’t normally use, or would set up an alert for like a regular jobseeker], Dad, could you keep an eye on them for llama-costuming jobs and send me what you find?” Then you can autoroute those emails to trash and thank your father for his effort.

    I had (still have) a pretty encroachy dad, which is one of the reasons we’re low-contact and he is on a strict information diet about my life. I escaped the worst of his behavior, though; my sister (constructed by our parents as “helpless,” which was never true) caught the brunt of it. I’m sorry, OP, these family dynamics are awful and can be tough to escape. I wish you all good fortune on your job search! Please update us, if you would.

  25. TotesMaGoats*

    Agree with all the advice but is there anything that we can do to help you in your job search? The sooner you have a job and get out, the better!

  26. EPLawyer*

    Since the applications are so poorly done I have to wonder if he is doing it on purpose to torpedo LW’s chances to ever get a job. That way she is dependent on him and under his control forever. Getting a job means she has a way to move out on her own.

    Since he listens to your mom, you probably need to enlist her again. He is not going to listen to your reason. Showing his materials side by side with yours will only make him try to copy yours better. It won’t stop him. If he is doing it on purpose to sabotage you, telling him it is working will only cause him to keep it up. he’s made it clear, he won’t listen to what you say. But he will listen to Mom. So use her.

    Then get out as soon as you can. Even if it means having roommates or living on a friend’s couch for a while.

    1. Not Australian*

      Yup, I knew a man who was very proud of having sabotaged his (apparently very talented) musician daughter’s application to a certain large entertainment concern because HE WANTED HER TO STAY AT HOME. No ifs, ands or buts. He thought it was a perfectly reasonable – even a clever – thing to do.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I thought about that too but it doesn’t seem the most likely reason to me, admittedly I have somewhat related experience with this. My family member (who I was estranged from for a number of years until he died) didn’t apply for jobs as me, that I know of anyway, but did do similar things like tell me he’d lined up a freelance opportunity and I just needed to contact them on Monday and say I was starting work on that project as arranged by ‘Jack’. Of course no such arrangement had been made and they had never heard of him, it was an attempt to “gumption” me into the gig! He did a lot of other information fishing and sabotage activities as well and almost got my other family member fired by calling up their workplace and causing a lot of trouble (I won’t specify in what respect as it is quite identifiable). None of that was a sabotage attempt though, it was really because he was a narcissistic sociopath who believed he knew what was right for everybody, could control people and that people were wasting their potential if not doing the things he thought they were doing. He was also physically abusive and the family member that enabled it was on the receiving end of a lot of it but also allowed it to happen to me.

      Flags are going off to me around this guy, partly because of the “he stopped for a whe.when mum intervened but then started again” thing. I may be wrong but I get an uncomfortable feeling about him that goes beyond the immediate job issue. It may be nothing but I encourage OP to think about whether is is controlling or coercive in other aspects as well.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think it more likely he doesn’t think her field is real. We’ve all encountered That Guy who thinks web design is no harder than picking from drop down menus on WordPress, or that nursing is just changing bandages, or that teaching is like babysitting, etc etc.

      I think Dad thinks graphic design is as easy as using WordArt in a .doc (not even .docx). He must be right, and more competent than OP, purely by virtue of being her father.

  27. The Person from the Resume*

    The LW needs to move out ASAP. I know that is easier said than done, but it’s the same as “your boss is a jerk and isn’t going to change.” LW’s dad is way overstepping and is not going to change (i.e. talking to him DID NOT WORK since he only briefly stopped before he started doing it again).

    LW needs to get out from under his thumb and put him on a limited information diet so that he can not interfear with her professional life ASAP. That may also mean limiting the info her mom knows too if her mom can’t keep it secret.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      My parents were toxic in a different way so I moved out when I was 18. I only was able to feed myself because I worked in a restaurant. I worked 2, sometimes 3 jobs. And it was worth it to be away from them.
      I can see where not everyone would feel the same but I was not about to be controlled by the crazy a second longer and I had tons of support from friends in a reasonable COLA.
      Whatever the case, OP, I hope you find stability and sanity soon. I really feel for you.

    2. Artemesia*

      This. Start a strategic plan now to move at least 1000 miles away. Get a job. Stash the cash and don’t let the statements come in paper to the house; on line banking only. Have a set of new emails for job searching and doing business that they don’t know about. Work from your phone not from a computer he has access to. And began looking for a job ANY job in a city you might like to live 1000 miles or more away.

      Go be a waitress in a new city with a roommate or in a share house and apply for jobs there. You don’t want a job anywhere near where your parents live. And when you make this move, don’t let them have your address.

      Odds are great your father WANTS to ruiin your job prospects to keep you under his thumb.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        This is the first mention I’ve noticed of a new bank account, and I think it’s a very good idea.

  28. KellifromCanada*

    I’m sorry to say that I think OP needs to cut contact with her father, at least for now. I realize that this will be very difficult, financially if nothing else. If it were me, I’d find a job … any job … just to bring in enough to live on while looking for work in the design field, and find a friend to move in with. I’d also change my email address and cell phone number to something he doesn’t know and won’t have access to, and apply for jobs using this new contact information. That way, if he applies to the same company she does, the phone number, email address and mailing address won’t match, so the employer won’t think it’s the same applicant.

  29. English Rose*

    This is so horrible, OP, I feel for you.
    Is there any possibility you could move out of your parents’ house? Is there maybe a sibling, grandparent near you? I think you need to put some distance between you and your dad and it would enable you to do as Alison suggests and tell him you’ve found a job.
    But if that’s not possible, I would do as others have said – get Mom and other family members on side, consider setting up a different name/contact details.

  30. Yellow*

    Create a new email address right away that your dad doesn’t know about, and start using a different name on your resume. Ex: If your name is Jane Marie Doe, and you’re going by Jane Doe on your resume/email, start using J. Marie Doe, and have an email that uses that format as well.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I couldn’t agree more. I was going to suggest she get mum and any other influential family members together for an intervention. I would consider telling him then that he no longer has her email address or changed professional name because he isn’t trusted with her details any more. I would secretly still check the first email for outstanding application leads. If OP doesn’t feel able to make a stand like that, I would just privately concoct a separate-ish professional identity with same/similar name and different contact numbers. Maybe even a new phone just for the job hunt.

  31. ENFP in Texas*

    Dad. Stop it. You’re not helping. Lying to people and telling them you’re me IS NOT HELPING.

    If you see a job or an internship, send me the information so I can apply.

    But you MUST stop lying and telling people you’re me. You are not helping when you do that.

    I don’t know if this is a feasible approach to take with the OP’s father, but maybe explicitly telling him what he’s doing is lying to people might get through.

    1. EPLawyer*

      It’s not feasible. He’s been told to stop. A rational person would not need to have it spelled out in numerous ways why its not helping. A simple –please don’t is enough.

      Dad is doing what dad wants to do for whatever reason. Further trying to speak to him about it will not change anything. LW needs to take steps that DO NOT INVOLVE HER FATHER to protect herself like use a different name, take a job any job to get money to get out. None of these involve continuing to try to reason with an unreasonable person.

    2. Courageous cat*

      I mean, it’s in the post that she’s pretty much said all of that. I don’t think a script will make a difference at this point.

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        I didn’t get the impression she told him “stop lying to people”. That puts the emphasis on what he’s actually doing (lying) instead of what he’s told himself he’s doing (helping).

        It was just an idea.

  32. Anoy*

    While obviously there is no excuse for OP’s dad’s behavior, I wonder if he’s stressed financially about supporting her? Lots of people are suggesting giving him as little information as possible about the job search, but what if OP made sure to show/communicate that she is being active about applying (e.g., talking at dinner about applying to X number of internships, or having an interview for Y date, set up Z number of coffee chats, etc. without telling exact places she applied to/contacted?). Maybe that will make him feel more assured that OP is working on the apps.

    Of course OP’s dad attempt to help her be independent is really undermining and counter productive (Alternatively, maybe that is the point? If he needs this badly to be in control, does he not want her to be able to move out?). But aside from the advice above of trying to rope in other family members to get him to stop, can OP demonstrate clearly that she doesn’t need his help by showing she’s sending out plenty of applications on her own?

    Last possible advice is to think about getting a side job in an unrelated field (if OP is not already working/contributing to household expenses) to both get some additional work experience and work toward financial independence (which would hopefully stop the dad’s bizarre and damaging behavior once and for all!??).

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That seems like a likely motivation for the dad’s behavior, but he’s behaving so irrationally and aggressively that I’m not sure it matters in terms of OP’s response. This is not something they can manage proactively.

      1. Random Dice*

        Yeah it’s absolutely the likely motivation he’s thinking of, but OP does not have to take that into consideration or sway OP from a reasonable healthy boundary.

        The only way it might be relevant is if it helps OP not hate him (while not trusting him and policing boundaries vigilantly). But that’s a bit of topic for why OP wrote in.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Unfortunately this is the kind of thing you do with an anxious, but trustworthy parent and he’s burned this bridge. Any information she gives him could be used in his fraud materials. He needs to be put on a strict information diet, at this stage.

    3. Hills to Die on*

      The fact that he applied for an unpaid internship could mean that he just has control issues. Either way, he is acting in his own worst interest.
      But it’s a good thought and may be the case.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I would assume he didn’t realize it was unpaid and is just applying to everything, given the full context.

    4. kiki*

      For a reasonable parent, this makes sense. My own parents struggled with understanding that I was indeed trying very hard to find a summer job because applying to jobs looks so different nowadays– you just submit everything online, you’re no longer dropping off applications in person or looking for help wanted signs in windows.

      But I think that really only works with a reasonable parent. LW’s dad has been told a few times by LW that what he’s doing is unacceptable. I think any reasonable person, at this point, would have to realize what they are doing is not actually good. Giving LW’s dad more information will most likely make him try to get more involved in different ways rather than actually make him stop.

  33. greenland*

    OP, I am so sorry you’re dealing with this. In addition to all the other excellent advice offered here, if it would be helpful, could you ask him to put together a list of the companies he’s contacted/jobs he’s applied for on your behalf? It’s not clear if he would, since he’s being so dishonest about the whole process, but if you could frame it as “wanting to ensure those are accounted for in my job application tracking system” maybe he’d think it was worthwhile. (Or, the much more underhanded approach would be to try to see if you can access the email account he’s applying from, potentially with your mother’s help).

    Knowing exactly where your name has been submitted will at least give you clarity on how to approach situations with those organizations, especially as you may “re”-apply in the future and would want to be prepared to give a prepared answer, like: “I discovered a troubled family member had been submitted fraudulent applications on my behalf in a misguided approach to try to help find me a job — needless to say, I was horrified when I found out this had been going on, and had nothing to do with the previous application your received! The situation is handled now, and I apologize for any complication in your systems it’s caused. [or: Please know that any communication from me will come from email@email address — you can ignore anything that comes from a different address is claiming to be me.]”

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’d leave out the troubled family member part, it may unfortunately read as drama. I’d stick with “I’ve recently learned someone has been using my name to apply for jobs”.

      1. greenland*

        Yeah, that’s fair — it may depend on how much personal information has been passed along, where it would raise flags about how on earth someone random knows OP’s birthday/education history/phone number, etc. But “someone” is probably a better neutral bet, and only mention that it’s a relative if, in OP’s judgment, keeping it generic would come across like they were hiding something.

        Worth nothing, OP: you’re in a really awful situation, but unfortunately versions of this aren’t terribly uncommon. There are letters on this site from people who have had to obfuscate identities or tell their employer not to confirm their employment because of stalkers or abusive romantic partners, and good employers (and potential employers) will be generally understanding if it comes down to that. (That doesn’t help in the application phase, of course!)

  34. HugeTractsofLand*

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this OP. If your father cared about you, he would have already stopped the first time you and others explained he was hurting you. Maybe he’s wonderful in other areas, but he is being destructively selfish here. I say this in hopes that you’ll stop searching for the perfect explanation that will get him to stop; there isn’t one, and it’s not your fault.

    I like Alison’s advice about telling him you’ve refocused on a different industry, and if there’s any (safe) way to publicly shame him into stopping (“yeah the job search has been hard because dad’s been impersonating me” is both true and shocking to any rational person!) maybe that’s the way to go. Based on his behavior, I don’t think he can be trusted with any knowledge about your future job and I think you can be blunt about why (“dad, you’ve already hurt me professionally and didn’t stop when I asked you to”). If he’s this controlling in other aspects of your life, I wonder if it’s possible to get some other part time job or temp gigs to afford to move out?

    Good luck, the commentariat is rooting for you!

    1. EPLawyer*

      ” I say this in hopes that you’ll stop searching for the perfect explanation that will get him to stop; there isn’t one, and it’s not your fault.”

      THIS. LW you are dealing with an irrational person. Like really irrational. You cannot reason with him. There are no magic words you can use that will finally get him to understand what he is doing is terrible. So stop wasting your energy on that and focus on GETTING OUT.

  35. Lee*

    My dad never went so far as to impersonate me, but otherwise he sounds very similar to yours. Particularly the deflection when you reasonably explained how harmful his behavior is. There’s a reason we only talk a couple times a year now.

  36. Lenora Rose*

    Oh, what a dreadful parent. If you can, put more pressure on your Mum to stop him, slow him down, and argue with him, as he seems to at least make a token gesture of listening to her.

    When you do get a job on your own behalf, I would suggest making sure your workplace knows your father is on an information diet and may overstep. Because even if you don’t tell him the name of your workplace, it will likely be easy information for a person in the same house to learn, and forewarned is forearmed.

    They will not hold your family against you.

  37. SMH*

    Obviously you need to move out and separate your life from your dad. I’m not sure if you can leverage your mom or your dad’s family to advocate on your behalf but I would make it very clear to my dad that this will impact our relationship long term and if I have to start damaging his career to get him to stop I will do it.

    Take one of his poorly designed cover letters/resumes and prepare the same email to the CEO that he sent again just changing the bare minimum to reflect your dad’s information and career. Send those to your dad and tell him if he continues to apply to jobs in your name you will start applying for jobs in his name. Yes he’s going to lose it and be angry but unless there is impact to him he may not back off. Make sure you are willing to follow through and actually apply to a few companies in his name.

    1. Grammar Penguin*

      Don’t wait or warn. Do it now. Do it in a way that’s likely to get back to his current employer. Let him deal with the fallout of having someone else mismanage his career.

  38. Heidi*

    The OP might want to prepare some sort of script to explain to a prospective employer what happened if they do apply to one of the places Dad also applied to. I’m not coming up with any great ways of saying “My father submitted a job application without telling me,” right now, but someone might ask and it’s better to be prepared.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Yes. People understand identity theft as a concept, and it would also explain any motivations OP chooses to use, like a slightly altered name on resumes.

    1. Artemesia*

      It is kind of like explaining you have a stalker though. No one wants to hire someone who brings drama and danger to the workplace and so coming clean on this may also reduce her chances. Save the explanation for when someone says ‘we got an application from you or someone with a name like yours already.’

      1. Heidi*

        Agreed. I wouldn’t necessarily bring it up first, but it might be useful to have some talking points prepared to reassure prospective employers. Ideally, that messaging would indicate that the OP had nothing to do with the “bad” application materials, but that they are aware of it and have taken steps to prevent it from interfering with future work.

  39. Squeakrad*

    This is a longshot, but if you are applying to places that you know, he’s already sent some thing could you send a note with your application, saying that you’ve been hacked? I think most employers would understand that.

    1. Colette*

      It’s a lie, and it’s not a particularly plausible lie. Hackers don’t apply for jobs on their victims’ behalf.

      1. dackquiri*

        Maybe a more-subtle / less-dishonest variant would be to post a screenshot of one of the dad’s ugly-ass applications to their LinkedIn or ArtStation portfolio or something, with a message of bewilderment. Something like “I didn’t send this??? I have an imposter?????” Graphic design’s can be a pretty competitive field; it’s not the most implausible thing in the world. Especially if their dad’s submission looks as awful as it sounds.

        Different places’ mileage will vary, but if I were on a hiring committee, I’d be *very* wary of being the workplace that fell for an internet saboteur’s bait, and would think twice before eliminating their apparent target from consideration.

        Yeah, it’s still contrived, but this is such a uniquely deleterious thing to deal with and the truth isn’t exactly going to set anybody free.

    2. AllTheBirds*

      Also, Letter Writer, don’t be too discouraged that you’ve been searching for months. You’re dealing with all his crap on top of the fact that it takes a few months for most of us to land the right thing. It just does. You will find 1) some part-time, freelance job/s or gigs that get you away from them geographically and then 2) you can focus on the career job you most desire.

  40. Snarkus Aurelius*

    If it makes you feel any better, my mom wanted to call my boss and tell her I’d been through a traumatic breakup because “I don’t know how else to help.”

    Lucky for me she didn’t, but if she had, I probably would have cut her off.

  41. STG*

    Oh man, I’d be so livid about this. It’s so out of bounds that I’d really struggle without a very clear agreement from Dad that it stops now. Not tomorrow, not next month….now.

    This would drive a wedge between us without it and I think I’d find myself distancing myself as a result.

  42. ijustworkhere*

    I’ve been on the employer end of some of this behavior. It started around 2006-07 somewhere around the time of the great recession. I worked in an environment where we primarily hired new college grads. I’ve had parents demand to sit in on their kid’s interview (hard NO) and try to stand by the door and listen while I am doing the interview, send me an updated application and telling me to ignore the one their child filled out, call to tell me I should hire their kid and yelling at me because I didn’t, and demand a debrief of the interview (again, a hard NO). I had to ban some parents from the waiting room of our office.

    OP, it’s an issue you cannot ignore and you are going to have to address. And it might mean limiting the kind of relationship you have with your dad. I am sure sorry.

    1. allathian*

      OMG, college kids, indeed. I’m glad I’m in Finland, because here it’s illegal for colleges, universities, etc. to give out any information about students, including whether or not they’re actually enrolled there, to the parents, without the consent of the student. Granted, it helps that tuition is free up to and including a Master’s degree, which is usually considered an undergraduate degree here. I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree at all, just a Master’s. It also helps that because we start first grade the year we turn 7, K12 education means that unless you’ve skipped a year, you’re going to be 18 or 19 when you graduate high school. The day you turn 18, you’re allowed to tell the school that they can’t give any information to your parents, and the school has to respect that. In practice it’s more complicated because few high school students are truly financially independent, but the possibility exists.

      I was 17 when I got my first summer job, and all my mom did was to show me the job ad in the newspaper.

  43. BellyButton*

    JFC. This is banana pants behavior. My only suggestion would be to sit down with him and your mother, as she seems to understand, and show him his cover letters and applications compared to yours. Tell him that what he is doing is negatively impacted your reputation, your design expertise, and your ability to properly apply to companies he has sent that crap to.

    When I see parents being overly involved and controlling like this my thought is that they- the parent- has no faith in themselves. They don’t believe they raised a fully functioning and capable adult. These are always the same people who complain about Millennials and Gen Zs. I just want to scream at them “you raised them!”

    Good luck OP. I hope you will update us.

    1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      I think this is well-meaning advice, and might work with a person who is behaving reasonably. Unfortunately I think the LW is dealing with a person who is unlikely to be persuaded that his behavior needs to change, regardless of how eloquent, complete, and persuasive their argument is. When you find yourself struggling to explain to a person that they are harming you because they just don’t seem to understand, that’s usually an indicator that “you are harming me.” was not enough to get their attention. Thanks not a trustworthy or reasonable person. Giving him access to more information about the LW and their job search feels like a risky move with a lot of potential to backfire.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > My only suggestion would be to sit down with him and your mother, as she seems to understand

      I would bet dollars to donuts that he’s done similarly controlling behaviour (with different details) with the mum.

  44. Toodie*

    OP, you have my sympathies.

    If it is any consolation to hear that there are other parents like this, then maybe this will help. My Mom once called and berated a guy who stood me up for our first date. I was 23, not 13.

    Thanks, Mom. Maybe this explains why I don’t want you in every nook and cranny of my life.

  45. Wonderer*

    I would list his car for sale online and use his credit card for online purchases of healthy food and a new bike. Show him what it’s like when someone else decides to ‘live your life for you’!

  46. Book lover*

    This is so awful and you must feel powerless OP.

    It sounds like you have given all the reasonable options a try and your dad is simply not a reasonable person.

    Normally I don’t think the risk that deception will backfire on you is worth it, but I think Alison’s advice to “switch fields” is brilliant. “Mom, dad, I’ve put aside my design dreams and am now going to put that single course I took in computer science to work as a coder. Wish me luck!”

  47. Chicago*

    Step 1 should be for LW to change all passwords to all accounts. Remove dad’s access to her email especially. This won’t completely stop him from applying, but there ARE two-step verifications that he won’t be able to pass anymore. Also, dad won’t have her LinkedIn access anymore and can’t apply from the site.
    This won’t solve everything, but LW should take this step regardless! She needs her own private accounts.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, I agree. I think it’s unthinkable for one adult to have access to another adult’s email and internet accounts. It’s a good sign that the LW finds her dad’s behavior problematic, but this seems to be a holdover from her teenage years, when the parents had the (legal) right to keep an eye on what she did online. In functional families parents give up that right the day the child reaches their legal majority.

  48. Prefer my pets*

    I want to call out something “Anon for this” suggested in a nested comment above because it is SUCH a good suggestion & I hope it doesn’t get missed.

    Applying using a different version of your name like nickname, middle name, etc along with different email address and maybe a post office box could be a fantastic way to mitigate this…considering how different the quality sounds they may not even register it as the same person. Let your references and prior managers know that you’re going to be going by “Middle Doe” instead of “First Doe” professionally so they aren’t confused if they get a call. (Obviously let absolutely no one in your personal life know you are doing this because inevitably someone will slip and your dad will find out and start sabotaging the new name)

  49. Essess*

    I would flat out tell him that what he is doing is identity theft and is illegal and you will not be in contact with him any more if he continues to do it. He is putting your job search and therefore your future in jeopardy if he messes up a job that you might have gotten if he hadn’t messed up your reputation with them.

      1. Essess*

        No information given to him. No speaking to him. Refuse to answer any questions from him. Walk out of rooms when he is there. Spend time out of home at library or other locations until able to move out to a friend’s home, etc…

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          The problem is unreasonable parents do things like kick non-complying adult children out.

          It can be hard to understand if you haven’t dealt with a bully of a parent, but doing that while living in the same house is not likely to end well for OP.

        2. Jen*

          It might not be worth it if OP can’t afford to get kicked out. It depends how much support they’re currently getting from their parents.

  50. Cambridge Comma*

    My mother did this exact thing and her applications ended my chances of working for my ‘dream’ employer at the time. There’s no real solution if your parent is like this and you don’t want to cut them off completely, but what I did was get a retail job, tell her I had decided to work my way up into management there, and then continue my job search.
    I also had a note on my file at the bank and doctor’s that someone might call impersonating me, in case that’s a risk.

    1. Hawk*

      Yep, my mom did this too, and she called my future (now current) employer impersonating me when she thought they were taking too long looking at my medical files (medical approval for work, I have documented disabilities she thought would keep me from working). Thankfully I still got the job, and she ended up moving to another state for her own work. All my medical offices now have been told to be aware that she would try this tactic, too.

  51. Peanut Hamper*

    Please print out this entire post with all the comments and show it to BOTH of your parents. At the same time. If your dad won’t come to Jesus, maybe he’ll come to AAM.

    Your dad is so far out of line on this. He’s actually damaging your professional reputation. I just have no words, but I have a lot of anger on your behalf.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      Then OP won’t be able to use any of the strategies suggested by commenters, so I’d be cautious of this approach.

    2. Jellyfish Catcher*

      The LW must, must keep quiet about everything they are doing, and anything they change to counteract dad’s harassment. (which it is, at the least).
      They need to keep the living situation stable, and protect their credibility.

      Change all passwords: phone, computer, bank, social media. Stash any printed info at a trusted friend’s house.
      LW could also couch surf somewhere that is kind and reliable, for some peace of mind.
      But dad is still able to F things up. LW needs a legal opinion, in my nonlegal opinion.

  52. WillowSunstar*

    If I were the letter writer, I would consider taking on at least some part-time work in the meantime that’s easily quittable (say, a fast-food, retail store or some kind of temporary job) and save the money to be able to move out. You can still focus on finding your dream job in the hours while not working. Also, maybe it would mean the Dad doesn’t worry as much because technically the letter writer would be at least somewhat employed. It is also possible letter writer could leverage the part-time work into more full-time work down the road because at least some connections would be built while being there.

  53. NegativeGhostrider*

    Letter Writer should legally change their name and not tell their parents their new name. New email using that name, PO box for a new address. All applications going forward are under the new name.

    1. AnonInCanada*

      I’m sure that part of the process of legally changing your name is to have your intentions published in a newspaper under legal notices. Said notice would undoubtedly also be available online. If this over-reaching dad is this callous in making up job applications on their grown child’s behalf, I’ll take a stab he’s also scouring the internet looking for anything about said child. I’m sure one Google search will sniff that out. Though the other suggestions are sound (new email address and phone number that no family member knows that OP only uses for job searches, a P.O. box for all snail mail correspondence.) And OP, please make sure you also don’t share any financial information with your dad. Have separate bank accounts at a bank not affiliated in any way with your parents’ bank. Keep all vital documents in a safe deposit box at said bank. Grey rock your dad — give him as little information as possible relative to your job hunt. I also recommend, if you can get emotionally detached, moving to a city far away. The further you’re away from your dad, the harder it will be for him to sabotage your future.

      All the best, OP.

      1. londonedit*

        On the offchance the OP is in the UK, that isn’t true at all here – it’s very straightforward to change one’s name by deed poll.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah it is really easy to change your name here. You can even make your own deed poll yourself with witnesses off the register (the registered name changes do go in the London Gazette apparently, but I don’t think anyone would see that anyway!) The only snag is that you then have to use it for all purposes, which might get tricky to hide. I vote for just using a professional name.

  54. Camellia*

    There are a lot of great suggestions on here, such as getting a new email address, but I wonder if LW has her own laptop or desktop on which to do this, or if she has to use one that the whole family has access to? If it’s the second scenario, she may not be able to hide a new email, google phone number, etc., from him.

    1. Presea*

      OP, if this is your situation, I hope you have access to a library, or a friend’s devices, or something along those lines!!

  55. Moonlight*

    Oh, I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. Your fathers, controlling behaviour and lack of solvent is honestly jaw dropping. I imagine he thinks he’s helping you? But I can’t fathom how he hasn’t thought this through. I could totally imagine an exceptional circumstance, where a parent wants to help, and in high collaboration with you and a deep understanding of your experience, helps to write cover letters for jobs you’ve identified as a good fit, IF YOU EXPLICITLY ASKED FOR THAT SIPPORT AND TRUST THEM TO REPRESENT YOU WELL and notice use use of (a) high collaboration and (b) who knows your work exceptionally well. More realistically, I het a lot of us would be happy for a parent who sends is job ads, gives advice, etc… but to apply was poor poor understanding of your experience, and was poorly written, cover letters, behind your back, all while you tell him stop stop? My point is mostly that this is so boundary violating, unethical and risks YOUR future and the thing is that there’s ways he could help that are actually helpful.

    So I know people who don’t speak to their parents because of this kind of thing. I wonder if, in addition to what Alison said, if it’s worth emphasizing that you’re not going to tolerate this just because he’s your dad and that you don’t have to be in relationship with him.

    Also, maybe others can weigh in: would it be worth it to email some of those orgs and explain that someone stole your information and was bizarrely applying for jobs with your information? Or would it be better to just focus on stopping the dad and preventing further possible damage?

  56. Ester*

    It sounds like your mom can be a good ally. Work together with your mom to talk to your dad. 2 vs 1.

    It sucks that he won’t listen to you. Obviously he should.

  57. Spicy Tuna*

    Oh gosh, I am so sorry this is happening to the OP. How stressful!

    One option for the OP is to make mention when applying to jobs that her email was hacked and / or they were the victim of identity theft. That way, if her dad had sent a bogus application, they would know it wasn’t from the OP.

    My dad had a long career in PR and when I was looking for jobs early on in my career, I let him edit my resume, which I then promptly deleted! I was like, “Who is this person??” He had put that I had fluency in languages I don’t speak, created experiences out of nothing… other than my education, it bore no resemblance to me at all! Thankfully, he never offered any additional “help” in the future.

  58. Molly Millions*

    Do we think there’d be any benefit to OP reaching out to these companies and saying it’s come to her attention that someone may have contacted them impersonating her (either framing it vaguely as an identity theft situation or citing “a misguided relative who thought they were being helpful”), making it clear that the resumes they received were not her actual materials?

    Or would that just draw unnecessary attention to it?

    1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      I think that message could work alongside a formal withdrawl from consideration (for jobs she doesn’t want) or the submission of her actual application materials for positions she is interested in. The confusion might be enough to turn some folks off, but if the communication is professional and the materials are strong, I’d probably note it as an odd occurrence, but wouldn’t disqualify the candidate outright.

  59. CanRelate*

    Being hacked is a reasonable excuse for this sort of thing, so I would write and follow a script for that response so you have it in your back pocket if you need it. If it helps, try to remember that its true: Someone is using unauthorized access to your information to apply to jobs. The fact that its your dad is irrelevant to the employer.

    This may not be an option for you personally, but If you happen to go by another name, or feel comfortable being called something else, I would change my first name and differentiate my resume from whatever he is sending out. I have a very common last name, and would be happy to be called my middle name, for instance.

    So, if your name was, for instance “Sarah May Smith” you could have the plausible deniability of saying “Oh, I actually go professionally by May Smith. Unfortunately I was hacked in 2022, and there is someone applying with my information and a bad cover letter under Sarah Smith.”
    If you have a common last name and can vary your resume enough to nullify what your dad is putting out there, though, You might skate by without anyone making the connection to the fake version your dad has created.

    I’m very sorry about this. As a person who isn’t in much contact with their dad, I know that every second of this sucks. I hope that in the coming years you get independence and can set boundaries that dont have to impact your stability.

  60. Spicy Tuna*

    Can the OP state in their cover letter that their email had been hacked and / or they were victim of identity theft and it came to their attention that the hacker may have applied for jobs in their name? Not sure if that would make the OP look worse.

    Another idea is to tell the dad that she got a job and then leave the house each day and go do the job search from the library or a coffee shop. That could be dicey if the dad would then expect the OP to move out or contribute to household expenses.

  61. Not the momma*

    How is he doing the applications? Does he have access to your email? If yes, change not only the password, but security questions and don’t share. Make the security passwords super unique, like mothers maiden name= Cayman Islands. And further with your branding, any new email and website should reflect your branded name, not birth name.

  62. AdultWoman*

    This is worse than my father setting up dates for me and telling me at the last minute, when I was in college. I wish I were making this up.

    1. Moonlight*

      who are the guys agreeing to this? I find it strange that some guy would agree to this… or maybe he’s like “weird… but a date is a date?”

      But yeah, this is worse; maybe some weird dudes agreed, maybe some thought it was off putting… but OPs dad is causing professional harm, which has much more significant impacts than some random guts thinking your family is strange

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        Or they don’t know they’re being set up either until it’s “I’d like you to meet my daughter, and now I’m going to just weirdly leave the dinner I invited you both to and leave you two to sit awkwardly together for the next hour or so. Have fun, kids!”

        It’s a thing that happens. Some people think romcoms are documentaries.

  63. HailRobonia*

    “Hey dad, since you feel it’s ok to apply for things on behalf of your family, here are a bunch of bills for credit cards I took out under your name.”

    1. Grammar Penguin*

      I like the idea of putting his car up for sale on Craigslist. Make sure to put his personal number right there in the ad.

      Or just apply for jobs in his name. Be sure to give his current employer and coworkers as references.

  64. Mbarr*

    Let me first say: You owe him nothing.

    But maybe it would help mitigate the issue by reframing how he can “help.” For example, ask him, “Instead of submitting applications on my behalf, can you send me the links to the jobs for me?” Then you can keep him up to date on which ones you applied to and which ones you’re rejecting.

    As Alison said, you can also point out the differences between your resumes and his, the confusion it causes, etc. I’d also find some of her posts where she’s pointed out that cold calling companies is not the usual practice anymore.

    1. Pescadero*

      “Let me first say: You owe him nothing. ”

      Let me just say – if you’re a dependent, living in his house… this isn’t true.

  65. HonorBox*

    While I can appreciate the suggestions that LW move out and cut off contact, that probably isn’t feasible or they’d have done that. I absolutely agree that is the best possible outcome. But we don’t know how easy that is to do.

    I think a straightforward and frank, in-person, conversation with Dad (witnessed by Mom) is the best course of action. LW, you need to sit down with him and let him know that while you understand his concern and appreciate that he wants to help, by applying for jobs “as you” he is actively undermining you. He is sending in applications to places, putting your name in a queue you’re not even aware of. Or perhaps duplicating your efforts, which makes you look bad. He might be applying for jobs or with companies you might not even want to be associated with. And if a company finds out that your application wasn’t actually sent by you, there may be ramifications. Not to mention your style is very different than his, so you’re not being represented correctly when he sends in the information he’s created.

    Tell Dad you need him to stop doing what he is doing immediately. He’s not agreeing to do so when you text him, so you need him to be across the table from you and acknowledge what you’re saying, and commit to stopping immediately. Tell him you appreciate that he wants to be helpful to you, and the only help you need at this point is for him to stop immediately.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      She’s already told him to stop. Mom got him to stop for a while, but now he’s up to his old tricks again. He is not going to stop because his wife and (adult) child tell him to. He is convinced he is right, and that his way is the best way–and nothing OP can do or say will change that. (Someone above mentioned getting the mentor to talk with Dad–this might work, but I suspect only of the mentor is male and over 35.)

      Her best move is to get any job she can stand, save up some cash, and bounce. Couch-surf, house-sit, rent a room in someone’s home, whatever she can safely do to move out.

  66. ChrisC*

    The evil part of me wonders if he’d fall for a honeypot.

    Make up a fake firm that sounds like a perfect fit, and print out a couple of fliers for it (or make a fake website and leave some links on business cards around the house). See if your dad reaches out to them.

    Probably more work than it is worth ‘tho.

  67. grocerystore*

    OP – does Dad listen to other family members? I am thinking an older sibling or one of your grandparents? You may want to enlist their help. My grandmother moderated many a disagreement between my parents and I during my teen years. I hate to say this but it maybe helpful if that family member is a male.

    Also if you share a computer with your parents, change your passwords to your profile. Delete copies of your resume from any shared folders. You might even be able to password encrypt some files. Change your email passwords and passwords to any type of job application websites (like Indeed etc).

  68. Sarah*

    Find a friend who will let you couch crash for a few week and move out ASAP. Get any job, even a retail one, to support yourself while you work to find a job in your field. Share a house with 10 roommates- whatever you need to do to get out from under his financial control. This behavior is not ok at all. You need to limit contact with Dad, until this behavior stops and he can be trusted not to resume. You might even need to limit contact with Mom unless she is willing not to share your info with Dad.

    1. Jellyfish Catcher*

      Good comments and ideas – except that dad should NEVER be trusted with anything even mildly significant, ever again.
      If you ever get married, tell him the morning of…or the day after.

  69. offspring of a narcissist*

    OP: Your dad has proven that you can’t talk to him about work, jobs, money, or anything tangentally related. I’m not saying it’s your talking about it that’s causing him to behave that way. What I mean is that if he’s unwilling to respect boundaries on his own, you might have to stop giving him the chance to cross them. If you can/ if you haven’t already, go after any job (maybe not exactly the role you’re looking for) that you can tolerate enough to save up and move out. (It might also help in your job search to be currently employed if you’re not already.)

    It really sucks to have things you can’t talk to your parents about, even on a surface level, especially if your relationship with them is otherwise pretty good. I’m 35 and still find myself biting my tongue when my mom does the “you know you can talk to me about anything, right?” thing because I’ve learned that I can’t. I have to lie and say yes of course. More recently, I’ve told her that I know I can talk to her about anything that *I want* to talk to her about. That went ok, but we’ve been dealing with this a lot longer. She means well, she loves me, I know that, but she wants to be the one to solve the problems regardless of whether that’s what I want, and she wants to do it her way.

    1. Jam on Toast*

      Folks have lots of excellent strategies for you, OP. I know that when you’re in the middle of the storm, it can be hard to tell what’s OK and what you’ve just come to accept as normal because the craziness is familiar. I hope offering a ‘reasonable parent’ perspective will be helpful, too. I have a son about your age, who is also in a creative field. Here are things as a parent that I have done to help him and things I haven’t done. We talk about his career goals in the course of our regular conversations and how his job is going on a day to day basis. I’ve given advice when asked about dealing with tricky work situations (shouty boss, unreliable coworker etc). Before in person interviews, he often calls me to do mock interviews, so he can practice his responses and make sure he’s emphasizing the right aspects of his training for the role. I help with cover letter editing and resume revisions, when asked, too. When a professional acquaintance mentioned their company was hiring, I told my son about the job opportunity and asked him if he would be interested in applying. After he said yes, I sent *one* professional email, introducing my son, Jam Jr., to the acquaintance and indicated he was interested in the role and would like to connect with them to discuss it. I copied my son when I sent the email and then withdrew completely. All subsequent steps in the hiring process were handled by him. I do share job postings that I see on LinkedIn or other sites if they align with his field. The decision to apply or not is always his.

      Things I have never done: applied on behalf of my son, with or without his permission. Edited or shared a copy of his resume without his knowledge. I don’t have access to his profession documents and never have. Even when he lived at home, I never accessed his computer or files. I have never had access to his email, or profiles other professional sites. I have never called or, threatened to call a boss or potential employer or gone onsite to his job to deal with hiring or work problems. I hope that helps reassure you that what your Dad and even your Mom are doing is deeply wrong and you are absolutely justified to be concerned by their overreach. Best of luck and stay safe!

  70. teensyslews*

    Oh, this is hard. If he won’t stop – could you change up your application strategy to distance yourself from his? Apply under your middle name, use a different email address and phone number? Obviously not ideal but it could reduce the chances of being discarded because they saw your father’s fake application. Alternately if you’re interested in moving, apply to jobs outside of the city you live in to reduce the chances of cross-contamination.

  71. M*

    OP I’m so sorry. Of course, you know your dad best, and if you really believe he’s continuing to do this (even after you’ve asked him to stop) because he honestly thinks it’s in your best interest, that may be true. But from my own experience, his behavior is throwing up a bunch of red flags that very well may be indicative of a future filled with similar situations if you don’t lay down clear boundaries immediately. If you have ANY way of moving out, I’d do it as soon as you can. I’d also have a serious discussion with your dad about what you will and won’t tolerate if he wants to continue having a relationship with you…and then stick to it. I know this might seem harsh, but the bottom line is that he is legitimately and repeatedly jeopardizing your career and by extension your future, despite being asked to stop. This is a BIG DEAL. It isn’t a joke, it’s not ok, and it’s probably just going to get worse unless you do something substantial about it now. Again, I’m really really sorry this is happening.

    1. N*

      Seconding this. OP, you say your father can be difficult. Perhaps he is truly well meaning, but he *knows* this hurts you and is *doing it anyway*. This level of behavior – essentially identity theft! – doesn’t often come out of the blue from a normally reasonable, loving person. If you haven’t done so, I’d take some time to reflect (by yourself, or with a trusted friend/therapist/similar) on anything else he does that disregards your autonomy or your goals, what impact that has on you, and what it gives him. Then make a plan that centers you, your goals, and the life you want to live. Sending all the positive thoughts and wishes for a successful job search your way.

  72. LifeBeforeCorona*

    Can you use a variation of your name? Instead of Jane Smith, J.Alice Smith to help separate the fake applications apart from your real ones. Get a new email address that only you know about and use that one. Keep the old one so that you can monitor what he is sending out. If he knows that you have created a new email/contact, he will start using that one. Do the same with your phone, get a new number but keep the old one for the same reason. Also, lock down your social media and all of your passwords and access to any of your work/personal files. Keep your original documents like ID, passports, transcripts, diplomas under lock and key preferably in an accesible place even if it’s a friend’s house. The idea is to starve him from any information about your job search.

  73. Kate, short for Bob*

    OP, what you could do is tell your father he’s cost you an opportunity at [company you know he applied to] because they’ve come back to you and are surprised you applied with so little design skill/spelling/grammar etc. Be icy calm, do it when your mother is there as witness, don’t accept questions, tell him you’re too angry to discuss this further but he needs to stop before he blows up your career for good.

    Practise in a mirror first. Practising stuff like this is useful anyway, but any time you want/need to lose it at boundary-tramplers, telling them *calmly* that you’re very angry is incredibly effective and stops them using your justified emotion against you.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this, I hope you make it out soon.

    1. irene adler*

      Only thing, if he’s one of those who believes he’s always right, this might cause him to double-down on his activities. Make more calls, be more demanding during these calls, reach out via email to any higher ups he can identify, etc.
      You’re thinking that he will react to such news like most normal people would- to cease the bad behavior as it has caused a bad thing to happen. Course, only the OP truly knows how he would react to such news.

    2. yala*

      I think if I went this route, I wouldn’t even name the company. I would specifically tell him that I am not telling him which one, because I don’t want him to make things worse. (Just in case his response would be to start emailing or cold-calling that company to “fix things” or yell at people)

  74. Susannah*

    OMG, LW – this is just so awful. I wish there were legal action you could take – at this point, the barrier can’t be that he’s tour father, because he’s defrauding your reputation and impersonating you. But I have no idea if there’s any legal action that could be taken. The fact that it would destroy your relationship with your farmer is moot – he’s pretty much taken care of that already.

    The only thing I can think of (other than moving in with a friend and telling him you’ve offend employment, whether or not you have) is to set to a dating profile for him. And refuse to take it (them – make sure you pout it on Grindr as well as EHarmony) down until he stops.

    What a nightmare. I’m so sorry.

  75. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    Take a page from his playbook if you know of a company that he did apply to and forge a reply that you had been in strong consideration but your duplicate application showed serious deficiencies and poor judgement and you have been removed from consideration.

    1. Hamster Manager*

      Yes I just was typing this as you were typing this! Make forgeries that highlight the problems here.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      This is a really bad idea. (My god, why do people always think a lie is the best way out of a difficult situation?)

      When (not if) dad finds out about this sham, it will just fuel his idea that LW needs his help. This is just bad, bad, bad. He already lacks boundaries; this is just LW crossing additional boundaries.

  76. Hamster Manager*


    Design a bunch of rejection letter emails from various companies you know he’s applied to, print them out and show them to him. Make the wording very explicit that his actions have blacklisted you from the company and are fraud. Marker out the name parts of your Very Real Emails and cite you not wanting him to contact them (these names and emails should be fake of course). Here are some ideas:

    “We seem to have duplicate applications from you with contradicting information. Unfortunately, our legal department requires we blacklist any candidate displaying a reasonable suspicion of fraud, so we will not be able to consider your applications in the future. Best of luck.”

    “Based on the materials provided, you are unfortunately not a match for [design position name]. I would suggest reviewing your application materials for typos and formatting; as a professional courtesy I’d strongly recommend seeking additional training or mentorship.”

    “This is an automated email from [company]. Your application has been rejected as you do not meet the qualification for the role, we will keep your information on file.”

    Any people who actually do rejection letters, please feel free to wordsmith!

    1. Gene Parmesan*

      Do this! I was thinking along these lines, but this commenter describes it so much better than my half-baked mental idea.

    2. WillowSunstar*

      Oh this is great! The only thing, if letter writer does end up in the future of going to one of these companies, will have to be careful not to tell dad about it. Keep parents on as low of an information diet as possible in the future.

    3. AllTheBirds*

      I think OP needs to focus ALL her energies on grey-rocking her family and GTFO.

      Anything else is a distraction from the challenging shit she needs to manage.

  77. Meghan*

    Yeah, its time to gaslight, gatekeep, (girlboss?) your dad. There is no shame in lying to you dad, he’s doing active harm to your job search.

  78. TaraGreen89*

    Indeed. I mean I assist my younger brother (in college) with his internship applications – but my (solicited by my younger brother) role in this situation is to act as a second eye. That is, he sends me a link to the internship position description and a copy of the resume & cover letter he has already written and plans to send in for the job. I will skim both documents to see if there is a formatting error or grammatical/spelling error he has missed (and highlight in google docs what he needs to fix), and if I think he needs to tailor the cover letter to more precisely address the job/internship description I will add a short comment to the cover letter where I note that he might want to do this/offer a suggestion as to how he might do that.

    This is (at least in my opinion) an acceptable familial level of involvement in the application process when you want to help a young person just entering the job market. I am not actively looking for/applying to positions, I don’t keep track of deadlines for him, and I don’t write his letters or resume for him. I’m not doing the job for him, but I serve as a fairly hands off copyeditor.

  79. Somehow_I_Manage*


    OP, even people with healthy parents need to set boundaries. Parents like yours need brick walls! Ideally a separate house altogether! Unfortunately, while you’re dependent on them for things like housing, food, shelter, and insurance, there’s not a lot you can do. Ignore the comments above advising you to confront your father- frankly, you’ve already done that and it didn’t work. Continue to ask him to stop, but otherwise keep the peace and keep everything about your job search and your personal life on a need to know basis.

    Try to remind yourself that this IS short term, you WILL find a job, and once you do, I advise you to move out as soon as you possibly can. Shoot- I’d start looking for a job in a new city. These are not the type of parents you stay home and “save up for a house for a few years” with.

    Chin up- you will get through it!

  80. Milfred*

    Ask him: Why are you trying to sabotage me?

    He thinks he is helping you. He won’t quit until you dispel that idea.

    Keep using the word “sabotage” in your conversations. Don’t use synonyms, keeps pounding that word and drive it in his head like a hammer hitting a nail.

    • Why are you sabotaging my job hunt?
    • I’m a graphic designer; my fonts, layout, and grammar must be perfect; your sloppy letters are sabotaging my job hunt.
    • I need a list of companies you have applied to so I know which companies you have sabotaged me at.
    • You are not helping me, you are sabotaging me.
    • No wonder I can’t find a job, you have sabotaged my chances at so many companies.
    • Your poorly written letters are not up to the standards required for a graphic design job; you are sabotaging my job chances.
    • Stop sabotaging me.

    1. cosmicgorilla*

      This. Now, to be honest, I don’t think this dad will hear the message. He’s too out of touch. But when I saw “I sent him a lengthy text”, I thought, dad didn’t “hear” any of that. Too many words. The messaging needs to be short and sweet and repetitive. You’re sabotaging me. They won’t hire me because you’re sabotaging me. You’re hurting my chances.

  81. AnonAnon*

    This is awful. I am so sorry you are dealing with this.
    Echo what everyone else said: Get another job in the meantime (barista, etc.) and look to move out ASAP. Also look for jobs not close to home in hopes that those waters have not be sullied.

    I am wondering if you have to go extreme here. Tell your dad you had a company contacted you about your application, and it was to a place you both applied to. They were trying to understand why you submitted 2 applications with information that didn’t match. You did your best to explain it but in the end, they decided not to advance you to the interview stage and had reason to believe you were not telling the truth.
    Your dad obviously does not understand the ramifications of his actions.

    OR I wonder if when you are applying to places there is a field you can enter a comment saying that you have recently become aware that someone has taken your resume, etc. and has been applying to jobs with false information on your behalf. Maybe a statement at the top of your resume? I’m not sure if that will make this worse or not.

  82. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

    OP, if your dad is using your email address for these jobs get a new one that you do not share with anyone but for jobs. Also, could you differentiate your applications from any that he is sending? So if your name is James Earl Jones, put J.E. Jones. or Jimmy Jones. Or J. Earl Jones.

    I also think you need to get out of your parent’s house ASAP. This is toxic and controlling. Do you have any friends that you can stay with or family that will stand up to your dad? If your family is the type to make a fuss, maybe mention what your dad is doing to some extended family members that you know would stick up for you.

    you mentioned a mentor. Have you talked to them about this? What advice can they give you? Are they high-ranking in their field and would they be able/ willing to talk to your dad on your behalf?

    On a lighter note, sign him up for a bunch of stupid “old people things”. Have it so he gets bombarded with incontinence products, newsletters from nursing homes, AARP type of things. Then tell him that you’re worried about him and just trying to help. See how he likes it (Dont actually do this it would probably make it worse but it’s fun to think about!)

    Please update us.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Agree to talk to the mentor for advice, NOT as mentioned earlier in the thread, to get the mentor to talk to your dad.

      I am so sorry! I do like the advice up thread to fake emails rejecting you with advice to get help because you application materials were so poorly done. But IDK if that is realistic to do.

  83. Delta Delta*

    This is awful and weird. My husband’s mother did something similar to him when he was in law school. He got a rejection letter from a job he didn’t apply for. He called and sorted out that it was his mom who did it (although he said “well-meaning relative”). Luckily, the hiring person thought it seemed very off for lots of reasons and assumed it was a relative who did it. He had to have a stern talk with his mom and to the best of his knowledge she hasn’t done it again.

  84. Ninotchka the Intrepid*

    OP, when you do move out don’t give your parents a key to your new apartment. Make sure neither of your parents is on your checking/savings accounts. Get a P.O. Box, forward your mail there, and use the P.O. Box as your address for all future job search activities. If your folks have your passwords to your phone/laptop/tablet, change those passwords. Your father’s behavior regarding the job search is a huge red flag that as you become more independent he’s likely to scramble for more control. Sorry you’re experiencing this.

  85. Abogado Avocado*

    LW, I am sorry. This is a very hard situation to be in with a parent. I love Alison’s suggestion for misdirection (telling your father that you’ve had a change of heart and are applying to a different industry), thereby encouraging him to send your applications elsewhere.

    However, if you think that won’t divert him, it’s not financially feasible to move out of your parents’ home, and you really need this to stop, you may want to consider using a family mediator. Many localities have these low-cost mediation programs that can help family members work out agreements over issues. Often, the issues concern child custody and support, although I’m aware of mediators being used to work out agreements between siblings over the care of a parent or whether a guardianship should be sought and, if so, who should be the guardian. There’s no reason why you can’t seek the help of a neutral third party (the very definition of a mediator) to help you work out an agreement here with your father, although you probably will want your mother’s support for participating before broaching the idea to your father.

    Wishing you all the best and, in particular, that you get hired quickly by the employer of your choice! Please let us all know what happens.

  86. DocVonMitte*

    Pro tip (from someone whose mother did very similar things to me): Set up a new email and a google voice number. Use these to apply to jobs exclusively. Do not give this info to your dad.

    If possible shorten your first name to a nickname (Tom from Thomas, etc) and use that on your resume/application as well. This will prevent the ATS from linking your application with his in employer’s systems. With completely different info it is unlikely employers will realize you are even the same person (plenty of folks have similar or the same names as others).

    Obv your mileage will vary if you have a very recognizable/unique name that can’t be shortened, but I found it VERY worthwhile to do this myself.

  87. AnonForThis*

    I dunno what we can possibly do except let me write to OP’s Dad.

    Hi, OP’s Dad, if you’re reading this, I’m someone who has participated in resume review and hiring. Basically I’m the person who reads your daughter’s resume. I understand, you’re just trying to help. But you have to stop. This isn’t helping her. We really don’t want to be communicating with someone’s parents, and yes, we can almost always tell. You have to trust her to understand the normal for her particular field. You really could hurt her job prospects.

  88. sofar*

    Wow. I knew that a lot of the older generations thought they know more about the modern job application process than the rest of us… but this takes the cake. I have to wonder why he’s not taking the hint when he doesn’t get any bites.

  89. Future silver banker*

    All my previous jobs had a rule that an unsuccessful applicant was not able to reapply until at least 12 month since their being rejected. I would want to factor that in. Imagine the number of places where OP is locked out so wouldn’t go through because of that setting

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      What kind of idiocy is that? As a hiring manager, I’ve re-interviewed (and hired) strong rejected candidates from previous openings.

  90. Not that other person you didn't like*

    Your ability to minimize information flow is limited because you live at home but I have the following suggestions:
    * Make sure your father doesn’t have access to your email or phone number and get a new email and number. A prepaid dumbphone just for job hunting / applications for example.
    * Change the name on your resume to a variant as suggested above.
    * Tell him as little as possible and lie as needed.
    * Scope out someplace where you can have phone conversations / interviews that’s AWAY from home. There are some great suggests on this site for people who are hunting while working and need to find a quiet spot and you can hit up friends to borrow their space briefly.
    * Have a bland, unemotional statement ready in case something ever comes up with a prospective employer (we got another resume that seems to have your information or your father called our CEO?). Like “that’s very strange, thank you for bringing it to my attention, this is my correct resume” or “I’m not sure what that’s about, I have minimal contact with my father.” Practice being calm and professional about it. Don’t apologize for him, ever.

    Start your escape planning now (copies of your vital records, a bank account your parents don’t even know about, friends who can offer a couch in case things go sideways). You don’t suggest you are unsafe, but this level of boundary crossing is pretty extreme and the ‘letting go of our baby’ process might end up being pretty fraught. And really, really stop sharing (this is so hard because you feel like you should be able to share things and it feels right and good to do so, but it’s not a good idea).

    I know links are frowned on here, but allow me to share something from Captain Awkward — the response takes the form of a letter from the letter writer’s future self back to her current self (letter #122, if you’d like to Google):

    “Listen: In the future, there is a small, quiet room that is just yours, where you are safe and you are free. In that room your shoulders will finally start to come down from around your ears. Nobody can come into that room unless you let them. In that clean quiet place, you will work and you will study. You will love and you will heal. I know this is true because I am there with you. We are there together because you saved us. You saved us because you were brave and because you never stopped believing in that room.” ~ Captain Awkward #122

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Replying because it feels like I can boost this response, even though I know AAM does not work that way. All great suggestions!

  91. Beth*

    OP – You need to sit your dad down and be absolutely candid to him. And do not try to JADE (Justify, argue, explain, defend) what you need from him. That just gives him room to argue against. This is not a two sided conversation, it is a directive.

    “Dad, I’m not sure if you are trying to be helpful or to sabotage me so I can’t get a job, but regardless of your intent, you are ABSOLUTELY hurting my job opportunities and putting me in a horrible position. On some of these you may actually be committing fraud. I do not want to get into a legal situation. You absolutely need to stop. Period. I’m not interested in discussing why you did this. It doesn’t matter, it stops now. I’ve asked you before so I need to make this clear, if you do not respect my wishes on this matter, you will also be seriously impacting our relationship. I hope you can understand that I love you, but I will not be discussing this anymore. It stops now.”

  92. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I’d like to suggest you start applying with a variant name and a brand new email address he does not know. Maybe get a POBox in the next town to use as a mailing address if you’re committed to having one on there.

    Marie Warbleworth vs. Jane M. Warbleworth might be enough to keep the distinction. Here’s hoping your name is as common as Smith, Rodriguez or Patel to truly camouflage you.

  93. It is what it is*

    1. Get a different email address and tell no family members.
    2. Get a post office box for all mail going forward. Tell no family.
    3. Get a google phone number. Tell no family.
    What other info does your dad or mom have access to? Bank accounts? Credit cards? Close those accounts and open accounts elsewhere or pay for credit monitoring. You cannot trust your mom not to share such info with your dad if he starts badgering her.

    Find a job, any job, and look for rooms to rent in someone’s house with shared common areas.
    Never share the names of your employers with any family members.
    Find someone not related to you to put as an emergency contact for your employers records. That non related person can let your family know of an emergency without any chance of divulging your employers name to family.

    Put every single relative on an information diet. At this point you don’t know who may “forget” and divulge information to your father.

    Let your relatives know that because of your father’s wildly inappropriate interference in your life, give examples, everyone will be on an information diet for the foreseeable future.

    It may sound extreme but trust me it is necessary. The less information your parents (both of them) can access the better of you will be. Granny or uncle Ted may be sympathetic but can you absolutely trust them not to divulge information to your parents?

    After you have secured a job in your field, and gotten established in that job, then and only then, you can revisit what information you want to share with your family.

    Never divulge your new email address or google phone number to family. You may need both of those in future job searches. Family can use your old ones.

  94. H.Regalis*

    I’m sorry, LW. My mother did stuff in the same vein, to the point where with that plus some other bad things, I have not spoken to her in fifteen years and nearly had to get a restraining order against her because she stalked me for a long time.

    This more general advice about breaking free from controlling, abusive people:

    -One thing my mother did was show up at my job looking for me when I did things that were not to her liking. When I got a new job, she would park outside my apartment and try to follow me to work so she could find out where I was working.

    -Controlling people like my mother and your dad can get really ugly when you start breaking away. Have all of your valuable/important stuff (passport, birth certificate, money, bank accounts, etc.) somewhere safe where they cannot get at it. If you have a car and the title is in their name, get it transferred to be yours. If you have pets, keep them somewhere else. Make sure your bank accounts are in your name only.

    -Be very, very careful who you tell your personal business to. My mother would call my friends and their families to try to find out information on me. I had to get a burner number to give to certain relatives because I couldn’t trust them not to tell her things.

    -Beware of your dad manufacturing emergencies to try to get a hold of you/find out certain information/etc. My mother was physically abusing another relative. They had to be admitted to the hospital for something unrelated to that. She would show up and lie about who she was in order to get access to their room.

    -Check your car/anything else for GPS trackers.

    1. Capybarely*

      All of this advice is absolutely fantastic. There are some good subreddits on managing the process of leaving abusive situations (and handling all flavors of parents) and it’s really valuable to outsource that knowledge and experience. Depending on Dad’s tech savvy, more support may need to go into digital support, but it sounds like the primary arena right now is safely increasing independence.
      This probably looks like slowly building relationships that are separate from the orbit and influence of Dad, finding and using boring scripts to manage some independence elements (title for the car, beneficiaries on insurance), and covertly (do NOT tell mom!) exploring next steps that would allow for total separation.

    2. Esmae*

      Keep a close eye on your credit, too. Dad sounds like the kind of person who might take out credit cards in your name — it might be to intentionally sabotage you, it might be because he thinks he can “help” you by building good credit, but either way it’s something to be watching for.

  95. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    I’m sorry OP! It sounds like your dad is deliberately undermining you (who uses multiple fonts?!). Do your best to distance yourself and maybe try connecting with recruiters for companies. If you explain the issue to a recruiter who you are working with, they might be able to help make sure nothing he does jeopardizes a given application. You don’t have to say it’s your dad either, you can just say you heard someone is doing this/has your same name and you want to make sure your applications aren’t confused.

  96. Aggretsuko*

    One of my friends applied to jobs for me on my behalf and uh….I had a similar experience with that. I applied to one place as myself and then she applied as me too, but with a poorer application. *facepalm*

    I don’t really have advice for you, mine eventually quit on her own since she’s already perennially job searching on her own as is. Parents, on the other hand, tend to not listen to their own children.

  97. AnonInCanada*

    I’m sorry this is happening to you. Your father may have good intentions but he is 100% in the wrong for doing what he’s doing. Your only true way out of this is to find a job–any job–and get out of your parents’ house. The further away from him, the better, so he can’t damage your reputation any more than he already has. Once you establish that, you can then take your time in finding a job more suited to your career path. I wish you all the best.

  98. Akcipitrokulo*

    Can you change your professional name (and keep it from him)?

    That may be the simplest route.

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      That is a good idea. If you are, say, Harry James Potter, maybe it’s time to consider if you want to be known professionally as James (or Jim, or whatever). Or something else entirely.

      My resume has the name I go by, which is not at all my legal name – not related to it at all. I just let them know my legal name is different when they make an offer and start needing legal stuff (like background checks or insurance or whatever). Never been an issue.

  99. TootsNYC*

    I consider this a crisis–he’s sabotaging his kid by sending out shitty applications, etc.

    And so I’d be focusing on effectiveness alone. If I had any mentor of any quality, especially if they were an older male, I’d lay this out and ask them to speak to my father and tell him he needs to knock it off in the strongest, most masculine, most authoritative “alpha male” way possible.

    The heck with whether I’m playing into the patriarchy and toxic masculinity. This is a crisis, and I would be wanting to make the patriarchy work for me here.

  100. Coverage Associate*

    Just adding my voice to everyone else who says to use a separate email and first name for applications. I see lots of professionals using Western or middle names. It won’t be weird to explain. You can even say, “I heard there was someone with a very similar name applying for the same jobs, so I used this name to make sure that there was no confusion.”

    1. Odditor*

      I live in the US and have coworkers who use their middle names professionally. It’s not weird and it’s a good step to keep your dad at a slightly farther distance.

  101. Titi*

    Is there a legal remedy for this? You could have a lawyer send a cease and desist letter, but is there more to do? This is forgery at least, and/or identity theft?There should be a way for adult children to change their ssn’s to protect from dishonest parents stealing their identities.

  102. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    I see why AAM did away with WTF Wednesday. Because, reading this, my head exploded with wtf am I reading?”
    But then realized, OP’s dad is a seriously skewed individual. The level of fear and control is pathological…I’m genuinely curious how OP was “allowed” to study design and not forced into a tradition/professional degree.

  103. e271828*

    Wondering what Alison’s advice would be the LW’s ex were impersonating them, or their sibling, or their roommate, or some complete stranger.

  104. Capybarely*

    OP, you’ve gotten lots of great guidance – something I didn’t see (maybe missed due to threading of topics) is tlhow to handle your digital identity and privacy. I hope that it isn’t necessary, but the resources at Crash Override Network (dot com) can guide you through locking down your information.

    At the very least, do not ever ever ever log in to your new email address from shared devices, or ones that your parents have access to. (Change your PIN for login to those devices too!) I say this because those autocomplete fields are wily and may “suggest” your email to the next user.
    And when your new email wants to access your contacts? Decline it! The last thing you want is your new profile being connected to your old one.

    The advice from Captain Awkward, Crash Override, and us here may seem like a lot, may feel extreme, but best case scenario they aren’t needed. If they are needed, you have a path to more resources and support through wise internet folks. Right now you’re probably overwhelmed, so take your time and make your to-do list. It doesn’t have to all happen today.

    It sounds like you know that your dad’s perspective is skewed, which is the first necessary step to getting out of his orbit.

  105. Sharkzle*

    I’m so sorry this is happening to you!

    I have some advice as someone who had a hard time finding a job as a graphic designer (in 2011, different times but still applicable). Grab a part time job or two, like Alison said, and save some money. Oftentimes at these jobs, you’ll meet people who have connections or possibly need some design work done. Offer to do some light design work if it needs done – like if you work at a coffee shop, maybe they need some signage or help with their website or creating designed social content/ads. That way you’re still resume building and working on design projects to maybe add to your portfolio. All the while, apply for design positions. My first design job was the pits, and I could have written an entire weeks worth of posts to AAM, but it got my foot in the door and I met other designers who I still keep in touch with today.

    Keep your head up, work towards changing your living situation, and best of luck!!

  106. Rosyglasses*

    This is so terrible – my heart hurts for the OP. I think the best suggestions are to create another persona and keep it private from your family and friends. That is likely more accessible than moving out, particularly if they don’t have a job right now, and may not actually end dad’s involvement.

    I hope we get a positive update soon in the future.

  107. TheNewNermal*

    Another thing to remind yourself of: it’s become increasingly *uncommon* for recent grads to have jobs lined up before their last semester ends or to secure one very soon after graduation (something like 7 in 10 had jobs lined up in the early 2000s and now it’s only 4 in 10 in the US). Don’t let this situation make you feel like there are tons of other recent grads out there who immediately found jobs and somehow you’re in the wrong for not having one. Try to spend time outside of the house when you can (until you can move out) and take care of yourself!

  108. Anita Brake*

    Good Night, Nellie! It sounds like Alison may need to add a category to the end-of-the-year “worst of” lists, but instead of “worst” (because family and love and stuff) maybe she would add a “Most Intense Helicopter Parent of the Year.”

    1. Bob-White of the Glen*

      That’s what I was coming here to say – our first nomination for helicopter parent of the year!

  109. Former Retail Lifer*

    I’d get a new email address and phone number (a free Google number) immediately. An employer’s tracking system may believe you’re an entirely different person based on that info, and you’ll know right away if the application was legit by how they contact you. Can you also maybe add a middle name or initial to your application materials to further distinguish the real you from the fake you?

  110. Cait*

    This is exactly what I was going to suggest. Change your name slightly, get a new email just for applications, and maybe change your phone number or get a burner for the time being.

    That should be enough to quell any red flags that might pop up in places your dad applied.

  111. Name*

    Depending on the application software, it won’t show that OP has applied twice. It will write over the first submitted application with the second. So if OP submitted one and the D.O.D. (dear old dad) submitted after, they won’t see OP’s but DOD’s.
    Add to that, part of the application says something to the effect that you are stating the information is accurate and that we can fire you if anything is inaccurate. That DOD is submitting the application makes the whole application inaccurate. If you were to get hired and if they were to find out, that’s easy grounds for termination if they ever wanted to get rid of you.
    I don’t know if telling DOD that would make a difference. I hope you’re able to find something worth your time without his help.

  112. ResuMAYDAY*

    OP, I’m a Career Coach; please consider my advice. This is where LinkedIn can be your best friend. Make sure that your LI profile is up to date, and upload your resume as a document that people can click on and physically see. It’s not enough to simply copy and paste the info. People need to see this document. Also, create an online portfolio of your best work through your profile. Upload a video and static docs. If you can’t post actual client work because of confidentiality, create ‘case studies’ of fake companies. Make it so obvious that anything outside of the stellar work they see on LI is clearly not you…but DON’T mention any of this craziness. That’s the worst thing you can do. The ONLY time this should be discussed is if an employer brings it up first. But if you show enough of your work at the front-end, you’re minimizing the chance of this.
    If people see current work, current writing samples (properly formatted w/proper grammar), it will be easier for them to ascertain the real you, and/or give you the benefit of the doubt.
    I think it’s important to distance yourself from your dad. If he asks why he doesn’t see you as much anymore, tell him that every spare minute you have is now spent trying to counter-act the mess he created for you. Good luck!

    1. lilyp*

      I think this is really good advice! When I was hiring if I ever got a resume or application with confusing or contradictory info, I would definitely go to the person’s LinkedIn to look for clarification. That should be something you can keep out of your dad’s control entirely. If you do start using a variant name for applications make sure your LinkedIn shows the name you’re using.

  113. Labrat*

    OP I’m sorry you have to deal with this. I hope the advice here helps, and you can move out soon. Because I doubt this the only unreasonable thing about your dad.

  114. Podkayne*

    This gross transgression of boundaries seems to call for some useful Al-Anon strategies. Such as JADE: you don’t need to Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain why you want him to stop. Any of these will likely go unheard anyway, as his actions are so over the line of healthy behavior. All that is necessary is to say: “Stop this. You are hurting me.” Each time it happens again, which it probably will, you could say: “I have told you to stop and you have continued. Stop. You are hurting me and yet you continue.” … Assume that he won’t stop and take other actions to offset damage that has already occurred and anything you’re able to do to prevent future attempts. Block him from social media and LinkedIn pages after you’ve changed contact info or set up new accounts and deleted the old ones.

  115. Temperance*

    You need your mom to help shut him down. Or direct him to send you job openings and not submit the materials he has to them.

    Here is the sad truth: your dad is absolutely and unquestionably sabotaging your job search and you need to get someone to make him stop. You can’t pre-emptively reach out to employers who he’s contacted because that might make your candidacy look like more trouble than it’s worth.

  116. JonBob*

    Bad advice incoming…. If you have your own computer, it might worth making your dad’s computer inoperable for a bit…

  117. Adalind*

    I don’t have anything worthwhile to add except I’m so sorry you are going through this. There is a lot of great advice in here. I hope it helps!

  118. My Bad*

    Ugh, this is awful. Agreed that LW needs to get out ASAP. As a new graphic designer, maybe LW could start a side business selling designs on a platform like Etsy. It may help on multiple fronts – earning money to get out, getting Dad off their back, and maybe helping to pad their portfolio at the same time.

  119. Mid*

    My somewhat chaotic solution would be:

    1. Create a new email using a different name (middle name maybe?) and make sure your resume reflects that name. That will be your new Professional Name. Do not tell anyone in your family this new name. Create a new LinkedIn and online portfolio if needed as well. Keep all the old stuff so your parents don’t suspect you’ve changed your name.

    2. Begin the process to legally change your name, and again do not tell your family. At minimum, get a new phone number (or use an app that allows you a second phone number) and lock down all public information about you. If possible, try to create a plan to move as far as possible from your family, and do not tell them your new city location.

    3. Give your father an “updated” copy of your resume and cover letter that includes lines about how this is an unauthorized copy of your resume, stolen from your website, and should be disregarded from consideration. This is framing it like a bot is stealing your information and sending applications on your behalf, so you have deniability.

    4. Cry to your father about a lost job opportunity. Fully lie here. Say that you were in the final round at a company that you know he applied to, and then they got a second application under your name, and since the quality was so terrible, they decided that you were faking the first application or had help, and they no longer want you as a candidate. Prepare as many details as possible.

    Have a contact number that he can bully out of you for the “hiring manager” who is actually a friend, who is prepared to go off on your father, outlining how unprofessional he’s being, how he cost you this amazing opportunity, how it’s damaging your reputation in your network because the “hiring manager” gave his support for you, etc. Make it as absolutely dramatic as possible.

    Will any of this work? Who knows. It’s ridiculous that you need to tell him to stop at all.

  120. Meghan*

    This is so hard since it’s clearly abusive but the OP likely doesn’t have much of a way out. Because of that I’m going to provide some advice, which is terrible advice but likely the only safe solution besides AAM’s saying you’re trying a different career path.

    Provide him your proper cover letter and portfolio. Ugh, yes, it’s gross to think you’d be going along with this abuse, BUT at least then shoddy work won’t be going out with your name on it. Provide a few email examples too if he’s going to insist on doing that. The good news there, at least, is that a CEO at a large enough company probably: 1. Gets these emails a lot. 2. Doesn’t read his own email at all 3. Probably isn’t directly interacting with hiring managers for entry level marketing positions. So really, the bigger worry is on the cover letter/application front which DOES go right to HR/recruiters/hiring managers.

    Good luck, hope to see you on a Friday Good News in a year with no contact with your father, living on your own, and happily in a new job. This is so gross.

  121. Spectra Vondergeist*

    OP, please disregard the suggestions to lie or do illegal things – him applying on your behalf is maybe on shaky legal ground, but you signing him up for credit cards or making purchases in his name IS very much illegal. The only lesson he’d learn is that you’re immature, and he’d just double down on treating you like a naughty child.

    Trying to shame or embarrass him? Also unlikely to work. I doubt there’s anyone out there that has enough power and influence to make him see how unhinged this is and make him change his behavior. I mean, you can certainly ask if you know a family member who has had success in the past, but I doubt there’s anyone like a mentor or professor or some other professional whose opinion will matter to him.

    I know it’s tempting to try tricks and clever revenge tactics/tastes of his own medicine, but all that will do is make life harder.

    I do like the suggestions to apply under a different name. Maybe get a part time job in an unrelated field, if you think he’ll let up once you’re employed, and use your downtime to covertly search in your actual field. A part time job that has different hours every week will enable you to pretend you have a shift when what you really have is an interview, or a meeting with a mentor, or whatever.

    Also, just as an aside, I’m sorry that you have to read all these comments trashing your dad. He may be awful, but he’s still your father and it can still sting and make you feel weird or guilty to have strangers saying mean things even if you agree. Good luck, and I hope you have good news for us soon.

  122. Dawn*

    Is it possible that you can start applying for jobs in your field under another name – as you don’t have any work history to look up anyway – and explain if/when it comes up that you’ve had issues with someone stealing your identity and applying for jobs under your actual name (this has legitimately happened on this site before, although I don’t have the link to hand right now)?

    I’d leave the fact that it’s your father out of it, but most employers would be fairly sympathetic, I would think. Set up a new email address, maybe choose something similar to your actual name, and then if they reach the point of an interview you can let them know.

  123. blood orange*

    OP, I’m trying to process this as a hiring manager. Maybe you’ll notice a trend in the comments and Alison’s advise that may help!

    I do think a variation on your name and different contact information would help a lot. I’m of the kind that definitely looks at past applications, but I primarily do that through the connection made by our application platform. It connects applicants to past applications for any other position through the account that they set up, so it would not connect two people with different accounts. The same is probably true for names and contact information.

    What might trip me up is if the name and work history ring a bell to me. Then I would probably go and try to make sense of that bell by searching for the name. If your last name is unique, I might find it quickly, but if your last name is common I’d probably give up and write it off as a similarity in the 100s of apps I screen. If I found the past app… very much like Alison said I’d probably find it a bit odd, but ultimately I think I’d be quite impressed if your second app is much better than the first. That would actually speak volumes to me, although I’d likely ask some questions to determine if you received a lot of help on your better application. If I saw your father’s second…. I think I’d be pretty confused, but I don’t think it would change whether I moved forward with your real application. I might ask you about it in an interview, but if they’re different enough in quality I would default to a misunderstanding or something else hinky going on that isn’t on you.

    I’m just one opinion, but I hope that helps!

  124. Erin*

    This happened to someone I hired about 10 years ago. She changed her name slightly, created a new email & LinkedIn to differentiate Firstname X Lastname vs Firstname Lastname. Her name was on the more common side (ex: Jennifer Smith) and this strategy worked for her. If your name is more unique, you could always change up your last name to use in a professional capacity.

    This is so infuriating. I’m sorry this is happening to you.

  125. Anonanonanon*

    Just a note to say that my mom threatened to do the same things years ago. I still don’t know if she was joking. Maybe she actually did send stuff off?

    I actually had a pretty good job at the time, too, so even being gainfully employed is no protection from this sort of thing.

    I was an academic, academic job applications have very specific kinds of formats, so I’m horrified to think what my mom (very much not an academic, with zero interest in my field, who couldn’t even tell you what my dissertation topic was) might have submitted…

  126. yala*

    Oh this sounds nightmarish! Honestly, my first thought was “legally change your name and don’t tell him, so whatever applications he sends won’t be connected to you.” But that’s…probably a step too far.

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, OP. Since he doesn’t actually respect you as an adult, best you’ve got for now is probably to lean into the “an actual profession has told me that this will actually hurt my chances of getting a job.” But even then. Ugh.

  127. Hexiv*

    Is there a reason OP can’t attach a note to their cover letter with a picture of the Dad Resume and the words “I’m aware that someone is impersonating me and sending out this false resume. If you receive this, please disregard” or something along those lines? I mean, assuming that changing their name (seems like the best option) isn’t easily do-able. They don’t need to mention that it’s their dad doing it. Of course this means that everyone the OP applies for will be aware that something’s up, but it seems like the dad has a lot of time on his hands so that might be the case anyway.

    1. Chickaletta*

      I’m thinking this too. ID fraud is pretty prevalent these days so, while it might initially draw attention to the cover letter, I think most companies wouldn’t think too much of it, although I wonder what Alison’s take would be.

  128. Billybob*

    So my two cents. Your dad is not taking you as an adult because you are not handling your responsibilities as an adult. You went to college for a long length of time. You have a degree but no job to show for it. Your dad is concerned that your decisions have put you in a position that you’ll be unable to get a job in the future.

    Not saying I agree with him, but I can at least understand his concerns. The other part of this is that he maybe worried that you are passing up filling out for jobs for one reason or another. Jobs that he may see as a start or springboard for your career.
    You need to have an open heart conversation with your dad. You just need to be prepared for your dad to be open with you too.

    1. Dawn*

      That is…. entirely too generous a reading of this father’s behaviour, and I’d argue demeaning to the OP. Searching for a job after completing college is a completely normal part of life that practically everyone does at some point, and frequently job searches take considerable time; in no way is it “not handling your responsibilities as an adult”.

    2. Chickaletta*

      Meh, I’ve seen so many well-meaning parents belittle their adult children, that I think OP actually is a very capable person (his letter is well written and he’s obviously demonstrated the ability to reach out for help) and his dad is just one of those who can’t imagine the fruit of his loins navigating the world on their own half as successfully as he has. Happens a freaking lot in our culture these days.

    3. New Jack Karyn*

      No, I strongly disagree. Opening her heart to her father just opens her up to being told she is wrong, she is foolish, she needs his help to get anything done, he knows what’s best for her, etc. If he were a reasonable person–who would listen in a heart to heart–he wouldn’t be acting like this.

      You’re also not doing too great here, insinuating that OP is being irresponsible by not having a job, when many fields are flooded with applicants–and her father is actively undermining her and sabotaging her career.

    4. yala*


      This isn’t as insightful as you seem to think it is. It’s pretty clear that that is the father’s reasoning, so there’s really no need to bring it up. OP is, in fact, handling her responsibilities as an adult. It doesn’t matter what reasons her father has. He doesn’t need to be “open” with her. His reasons don’t matter. At all. All that matters is he needs to STOP DOING THIS.

    5. Esmae*

      LW is actively applying for jobs and has a professional mentor. In what way are they not handling their responsibilities as an adult? It sounds like they’re doing everything they should be doing, and have explained that to Dad repeatedly, and he’s choosing not to listen.

    6. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      Even if this is his thought process, what HE is doing is the REAL thing putting her in danger of being unable to get a job in the field which she has spent years training for. He has been told this. He has ignored it.

      He has decided that HIS FEELINGS about the situation are more “correct” than the actual FACT this is damaging to the LW’s career. Arguably, living in make-believe land makes LW’s dad the one who isn’t behaving like an adult here.

  129. Raida*

    I’d be angling to get access to the email account he’s been using.

    Then save all the Sent emails.

    Then create a form letter to send to every single one of them, that is professional looking, stating that this is not your email address, you’ve recently learnt of this attempt to ‘help’ and you don’t want to be remembered as a graduate with unprofessional letters.

    1. Technically a Director*

      This seems well-intentioned, but likely to cement you as a “candidate with drama” in their eyes. The cure might be worse than the disease with this approach, so proceed with care.

  130. noname12345678*

    I’m going to give very different advice from Alison. I see you’re not in the US (you referred to your mother as “mum”) but I have no idea where you are, other than in a country that uses British spelling.

    You’re not safe emotionally or financially while living with your parents. Your father’s behavior borders on abuse and your mother is an enabler. Your goal should be about establishing firm boundaries with your parents and protecting yourself. The only way to successfully do that is to move out. Here’s what you need to do:

    1) Get a job immediately. Any job. Irrelevant what you do, as long as it’s paid.
    2) Once you get a job, move out of your parents’ house immediately. Move anywhere, as long as it’s safe and not with a roommate who will feed your parent(s) information about you. Ensure your parents have no access to your house. Petsit if you have to. Move in with someone elderly to pay reduced rent. Just do whatever you can to get out.
    3) Do your parents have access to your email account? If so, change your passwords immediately.
    4) Do your parents have access to your finances (bank accounts, credit cards, etc. in your name)? If so, start taking immediate steps to protect your privacy.
    5) Are you being financially supported by your parents and you don’t have your own bank account? If so, circle back to step 1. Once you get a paid job, open a bank account in your name only and ensure your parents have no access to this account.
    6) Once all of that is done, contact an attorney and get them to send a “cease and desist” letter to your father. This letter lets your father know that he must immediately stop filing applications on your behalf or possibly face legal ramifications.
    7) If your dad continues to apply for jobs on your behalf, file a police report / complaint against your father.
    8) While doing all of the above, provide as little information about your personal and work life to both parents and anyone who feeds them information as possible. Sure, you can go over to your parents’ house regularly, eat dinner with them hang out with them, etc., but the less information they have about your personal and professional life, the less chance they will have to interfere with your life.
    9) Only when you’ve done all of the above, you can take a moment to pause and resume your efforts at finding employment in your actual field.
    Good luck!

  131. GreenDoor*

    You referred to your mother as “mum” so I”m guessing maybe your not in the U.S. But here, may employers still ask applicants to provide highly personal information like Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, etc. If he’s providing that type of information about you to others without your consent, that could be considered identity theft. Highly abusive and a huge violation of privacy. If there’s any way for you to move out of your parents’ home and put them on an information diet, please make plans to do so. I’m so sorry!

    1. Mea*

      Providing your national security number is not a ‘thing’ on UK job applications. It would only come up later on as you progressed in interviews to verify ID.
      The driving license number, again, not likely to be asked unless its a job with a driving component.

  132. Ellen N.*

    I’m really sorry that your father is sabotaging you.

    It sounds like there is no amount of reasoning with him or citing experts that will get him to stop. If he is attempting to help you, it’s clear that he believes that he knows better than anyone else what works.

    The other possibility is that his true intent is to sabotage your job search.

    Either way, if I were you, I would consult with an attorney and have them write a cease and desist letter.

  133. Chickaletta*

    Ugh, this is awful. As a former graphic designer, I know how frustrating it was to see friends and family use bad design techniques, but I never had them use them on my behalf so my heart goes out to you.

    If I were you, I’d do what I could to separate my actual applications from the ones your dad is sending in. Get a different phone number (you can set up a cheap burner phone for this), set up a new email, a new address (PO Boxes run about $25/month in my area) or just skip the address part altogether, and maybe even a different name to use on your applications – use your middle name, initials, or a nickname on your applications instead of what your dad is using. And this is key: don’t tell him what these are, so that he cannot start using them. Hopefully, companies will not peg you as the same person.

    Stay strong!

  134. Fierce Jindo*

    I know this is far easier said than done, but: start using a different professional name, never tell him, and make sure you keep your stuff VERY private so he never finds out.

  135. Oneship*

    Maybe OP should sidestep the whole issue by applying a different name? That way OP has a professional name untainted by their father’s actions

  136. Career285*

    OP, have you thought about pretending that you have a job? You could get dressed in work clothes and go to a public library, a coffee shop, or a friend’s place for the day and use that time to work on applications and search for alternative housing. Would you have access to a place like that and transportation to get there? I understand you may feel pressure about sharing with your parents the name of an actual company you work at, but you can tell them that you don’t feel comfortable sharing given your dad’s past behavior and that you’d be worried he’d send inappropriate emails to your boss. You absolutely shouldn’t have to do that, but it sounds like your dad isn’t going to stop. I grew up with controlling and abusive parents and I agree with everything others are saying about moving and putting them on an information diet. I moved across the country and have fully hidden career stuff from my parents because they would meddle and give their unwarranted opinions. I realize that’s easier to do thousands of miles away, but I do think it’s possible if you’re able to just get out of the house for the day. I wish you well and I hope you have a support system to talk about this with!

    PS I am a recruiter and I think it would be totally to fine to put a note on your resume with something like: “You may have come across a resume under my name with X email address. Unfortunately my identity was stolen recently. My actual email address is Y. Please disregard any applications sent from X.”

  137. virago*

    This discussion contains a lot of good counsel, but I want to signal boost the comments of ResuMAYDAY and H.Regalis, who offer excellent advice on, respectively, how to use LinkedIn to showcase your graphic design portfolio in a way that OP’s dad can’t sabotage, and how to cut off contact with toxic and controlling people (once OP is able to move out).

  138. Jessica Fletcher*

    If you can’t stop him, maybe you can get him to stop applying and instead just send you job listings. You don’t have to use them, but maybe it’ll redirect him to something annoying instead of harmful.

  139. DiplomaJill*

    As a graphic designer in my former life and some one who hires graphic designers now, he is indeed actively harming your search. In this industry the design, layout, and readability of your cover letter and resume matter. The professionalism (both visually and the content) of your communications matter.

    My father was dubious that my design degree was worthwhile and made me employable. He didn’t understand the value of the education I received or that there’s a process and rationale behind the work — that nothing should ever just “look pretty.”

    It sounds like yours may be the same and attempting to help via these misguided applications. Wishing you a job soon for both of your sakes.

  140. Nonnymee*


    If you’re in the UK and not already doing so, sign on or try to get a part time retail etc. job.
    Then tell both parents, together, that you’ve now got some money coming in, and so can help with your expenses (putting some by to move out). Also tell them that you’re still applying for jobs in your field. Tell dad that his helping is actually hurting because he’s not following conventions for the design field and also that they’re confused by getting two applications from you (white lie here, that the two apps hurt you and got you removed from consideration). Ask him to please keep copying you on any jobs he thinks are suitable.

    You said he sent you a load of job links in reply to your text asking him to stop sending in applications, so he does seem like he’ll oblige. You don’t have to actually follow up any of the jobs your dad sends just let him think you’re doing so. That’s he key, letting him think you’re following up the job links, so he doesn’t feel the need to do so for you.

    If you actually show that you’re being pro-active in both bringing in money to help offset your food, utilities etc. and you talk about applying for various jobs (you don’t need to state where), he’ll hopefully calm down and let you do your own leg work.

  141. Technically a Director*

    Consider changing your name for professional / resume purposes. You can use a middle name or nickname. Obviously, use your legal name on the paperwork. Also set up an e-mail address that your dad does not have, that matches your professional name.

    This allows you to separate yourself as presented by you (your “professional self”) from the one he is trying to establish.

  142. Kgulo*

    The commenters are all spot on. I’m coming here to second everyone who suggested moving far away from your parents, getting a part-time job to save up money, and telling your dad you shifted your search to try to thwart him away from your field. I’m very sorry you are dealing with this.

  143. EE*

    I am so, so sorry you are dealing with this.

    I want to emphasize one thing in particular: In your letter, you explained this situation so clearly and so persuasively that there are literally hundreds of people leaving comments to tell you how appalling your dad’s behavior is and trying to help you find a solution. That means that the problem IS NOT how you are explaining the situation. I am absolutely confident that you have explained it AT LEAST as well to your parents as you did to us, and probably more than once.

    Therefore, I think it is time to abandon any and all strategies that involve explaining this to your dad again. There is not another, better way you can explain it to change his mind. Your explanation was clear. If he was going to understand it, he would. He is choosing not to understand you or not to believe you (or he does and is pretending not to).

    He is not going to realize that his behavior is wrong. Accept that first, and then make plans from there.

  144. e271828*

    The comments on this post are a perfect shibboleth for “people who know what abuse is” and “people who do not know what abuse is.”

  145. Heli*

    I’ll say be a team with your dad.
    Show him your resume and cover letter and talk to him about your job search journey. Tell him that if he wants to help then he can send those job posts to you directly and you can apply for them. Do it a couple of times in his presence and see if you can incorporate his few pieces of advice. Tell him and show him the outcomes on careers pages where the job application status show. That way he will be aware of your job-hunting journey and know you are doing everything that you can get a job thereby not giving him insecurity that he has to do it on your behalf.

  146. cchrissyy*

    +1 to captainawkward’s website for advice on how to safely leave a abusive home situation.

    this person is extremely abnormal, even for controlling dads. you are right to be shocked and disrespected. and you are smart not to waste time on suggestions to reason with him or teach him a lesson. those things are not possible and they will not move you forward.

    i’m sorry! i hope you get the quiet room of your own, very far away from here.

    agree with the advice about using a variant of your name, a different email and phone and mailing address from now on.

    also it’s smart to check your credit report and to make sure he has no access to your bank accounts and logins to your devices or important websites.

    lastly, once this job hunt is over, you will need plans for whatever wild and controlling idea he has next. a person who is this abusive and abnormal is also somebody who might send letters to resign you from your job, or break up your relationship, or gosh knows what else he can think up to disrupt your life. it’s so important to get far away and be careful about what info might get back to him.

    good luck! read captainawkward.

  147. Jasmi*

    This is crazy. I could maybe understand (although not condone ) if your dad did this once as a bad error of judgement, realised was a bad idea, and didn’t do it again. But to continue after you asked him to stop, and then to call YOU disrespectful….is just madness. It really irritates me when parents automatically demand respect from their kids just because they’re the parent without realising respect is a two way street. OP, I think the advice one commenter gave about changing your contact info was a good… hopefully this might put a bit of distance between yours and your father’s applications. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and hope it gets resolved!

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