my friend keeps asking me to get him a job, but he’s completely inexperienced and unqualified

A reader writes:

I work in a fairly specialized field in the nonprofit sector, but one which sometimes features in the news and which many people not in the industry therefore take a passing interest in (think something like promoting women’s soccer). My field is not one which has a fixed route to get into, such as needing to go to law or medical school. But there are no entry-level roles — you have to have relevant skills and experiences gained elsewhere. To take the women’s soccer example: some people have previously been women’s soccer players; some have extensive experience organizing amateur soccer teams or volunteering with girls’ soccer charities; some have specialized skills and qualifications like being a sports physical therapist; and some have previously worked in different-but-adjacent nonprofit sectors.

Which brings me to my current situation. A close friend keeps asking me to get him a job in the industry, but he has absolutely no relevant knowledge, skills, or experience. He is one of those who will read and be interested in news articles when they appear, but beyond that really does not know much. When he first asked, I assumed he was joking, and that it was just a nice way of telling me my job sounded interesting. But then he kept asking, over and over again. This has gone on for … a long time.

When I point out that he knows nothing about women’s soccer and has no experience of nonprofit work (or anything which that entails such as project and grant management), he says that he can learn that on the job. When I point out that there are no entry-level roles and that nobody would hire somebody with no relevant background just because the applicant thinks they can learn the required skills on the job, he says I could recommend him.

One thing making this stranger is that he already has a successful career in his (totally different) field, in the private sector. I have suggested that if he really does want to work in my industry, he could transition to nonprofit work in his current field (there are a lot of opportunities to do so), then after a few years use that experience to try and move into mine. When I suggest that, he asks why I can’t just get him a job.

I will soon be moving to a new role, and he has now started asking if he can have my current job when I leave it. Aside from the fact that I won’t be the hiring manager, the answer is unsurprisingly no. But he is continuously asking and getting annoyed and frustrated when I keep saying no.

I’m not sure if this stems from a genuine naïveté about how people get jobs (he basically fell into his current field and then just stayed with it, so maybe he thinks that is the case for every job) or if he’s just trying to be an opportunist because he thinks my industry pays more, or a mix of both. Is there any way to shut his questioning down once and for all?

I think your error may be that you’re still trying to reason him into understanding why you’re not going to find him a job. That made sense in the beginning, when it was reasonable to assume he just didn’t understand how hiring in your industry works, but at this point you’re throwing good effort after bad in trying to logic him into understanding.

Instead, you probably need to just be blunt: “Dude, no. I’ve already explained that isn’t how my field works. There is zero chance I could do what you’re asking. Stop asking!”

If he keeps asking after that and since he’s a close friend: “It’s really frustrating that you keep asking this after I’ve told you it’s impossible. I’m calling a permanent ban on the subject so it doesn’t start affecting our friendship.”

Frankly, it might be worth adding that his certainty that he could step right into your field with no qualifications is pretty insulting to you: he’s devaluing your work, whether he intends to or not. (He’s also making himself look pretty delusional at the same time, which is a weird — although strangely common — combination.)

{ 355 comments… read them below }

    1. Lulu*

      And I’ll add: “Even if you had the qualifications for the position, I wouldn’t be able to recommend a friend for a work role since we’ve never worked together and it would require me to speak on behalf of your work, which I haven’t seen. There’s no way for me to help you with this, other than by making the recommendations I’ve already made for how you could break into this field if you decide that’s the direction you want to go.” Even that is probably too much, and “no” will suffice.

      1. Stopgap*

        Yeah, it’s a waste of time and mental effort to keep trying to reason with someone who’s demonstrated that he won’t listen to reasons that conflict with what he wants.

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            I keep having to relearn that lesson, though it does tend to be quicker each time.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          What he’s blaring, frankly, is that he would be a damn nightmare to work with. From how I read this letter, he seems to think that wanting a random job is all that is needed for him to deserve it and for the LW to go hey, here’s my old job, go nuts!

          How long has he been working? Because he sounds like a combination of everybody’s favorite “hire me to be your visionary” guy and Francis from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

          1. Cj*

            yeah, saying he wants to have her current position is particularly bizarre.

            Alison probably meant this when she said he is devaluing her work, but she mentioned this regarding him thinking he could step right into her field with no qualifications. but he not only wants to step right into her field, he wants to step right into her job!

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        No, no, no. Stick to “You’re not qualified, I can’t recommend you.” No need to soften. Be completly blunt and focus on the biggest reason.

      3. eeeek*

        HONESTLY. The number of times I have had to tell people (friends, acquaintances, distant colleagues) “If you ask me to recommend YOUR WORK and I have NO EXPERIENCE of working with you, I WILL BE HONEST AND SAY THAT – and it WILL NOT HELP YOU.”
        Yes. I know I’m shouting. I get very shouty about this. I’m in a position where people frequently ask me to vouch for them all the time, based on extremely slim interactions. When I tell them I will report that my experience of their work was that I did not perceive any screwups in a single 20 minute meeting, or that they were present at several committee meetings (or that they were absent), they tend to moderate their request.
        And unqualified “friends” who as, me to recommend them? They’re not friends. (Sorry to say.)

    2. StressedButOkay*

      Also, “If my organization has any positions open, those responsible for hiring -” i.e., not OP “- post it on our website/LinkedIn/etc. You’ll need to check and apply through those means. That’s the last I’m going to talk about job openings if we want to continue to be friends.”

      Even if OP was chill with giving her “friend” a reference, he would still need to apply! Like normal people!

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            And a “Catchy Title” on your weird-font, colored paper, bad poem resume.

            Oh, wait, that was last century- You need a link to your catchy animation personal website.
            Something along the lines of a JibJab (with music!!) should really impress.

      1. ZugTheMegasaurus*

        This is exactly what I was thinking – even if he WAS qualified, OP doesn’t have the power to give him a job! I feel like the easiest response here would just be, “What? No, I don’t do hiring at all and can’t appoint my own replacement either.” (I imagine making a very baffled expression throughout, mainly because I feel like what he’s talking about isn’t actually a thing?)

          1. Too Many Tabs Open*

            It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young man in want of a job must be given one by his friends.

            However little the skills or qualifications of the man may be known by his friends or by any disinterested observer, this truth is so fixed in the mind of a mediocre young man, that his friends are considered as the rightful hiring managers for one or more of their employers.

            1. Girasole*

              This is wonderful! I would absolutely read a novel that started that way. I bet Austen’s wit and keen eye for human frailty would have a lot of scope in the workplace.

    3. Green great dragon*

      Or “I’ve explained before why recommending you wouldn’t do any good” since LW could recommend him, and everyone would go What? No.

    4. Erin*

      He can apply for any job he wants in the universe, but that doesn’t mean he will receive an offer. So, let him go ahead and apply. His skills and background won’t match up with the role, and he will not be contacted for an interview. Since LW isn’t the hiring manager or HR for this non profit, they can’t be of any help in flagging down responses.

      Something like “sorry, bro! I’m not the hiring manager. Idk?” should work. Hopefully, with the lack of interest from the org, this guy will eventually beg off.

    5. Quokka*

      I’d start to get creative “no way would I recommend you: you would get eaten alive – I doubt you would even last a week. Do you have any idea what I have to do every day? No way would I put a friend of mine with no training on how to cope with all that in that situation. You’d probably never talk to me again. Actually, my job sounds pretty crap – can you get me a job at your company? Since your looking to leave, you can just give me yours…”

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I did the same thing. This person is a “close friend.” *sigh* I understand granting leeway to a close friend, but this can be tiring. Were it merely a “friend” I would suggest a reevaluation of that status, but close friends are a different matter.

      1. duinath*

        see i don’t get it at all. if this were a work contact, i might understand pussyfooting around with diplomatic responses, but with a close friend? “dude. there’s nothing to recommend. you’ve got no relevant experience. i’m not gonna lie for you, so you need to stop asking.”

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I get it that some people are extremely conflict avoidant, but if they’re truly close friends, he should be able to handle the truth. If he can’t, that tells the LW something about him and maybe something about the state of the friendship as well.

          That said, the guy’s putting their friendship in jeopardy with his persistence, and I recommend telling him as much.

  1. Pottery Yarn*

    That last paragraph describes so much of what I have to do when other departments won’t stay in their lanes.

    “You do X, which requires a great deal of knowledge and skills that I don’t have, and I know full well that I couldn’t just show up tomorrow and start doing your job. Meanwhile, I do Y, and I, too, have a great deal of knowledge and skills that I need in order to do my job well, so I need you to trust me to do Y and not take it upon yourself to try and do it because you DO NOT know better than me about Y.”

    1. umami*

      Heh. I have one of those jobs that people think is fun and glamorous and … easy. It is most certainly not, but so many people think they would LOVE to do what I do when they have NO IDEA what it takes to make things look fun and glamorous and easy lol.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I generally assume that any job that looks fun and glamorous from the outside is probably some combination of overworked and underpaid, what with everybody wanting to do it. Professional sports front office jobs are actually kind of notorious for this, as some people will put up with a lot to work in the field.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          This is so true. If qualified people are willing to do your job for peanuts, unless you’re really lucky, peanuts is all you’re going to get. Add in a bit of vocational awe and you have an entire profession willing to put up with anything for very little personal benefit.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          This! I was a theater kid, and one thing it did qualify me to do is grasp “for every second of stage time, there is ten hours of drudgery behind it.”

          Jobs in sports, entertainment, and the arts look very glamorous–its in the nature of those things to generate glamor and excitement, that’s why they’re valued by society. But the generating itself is hard, hard, hard work.

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            With your funny little webbed feet tangled in fishing line and dragging an anchor!

      2. birb*

        Marketing is like this, and its infuriating. I can’t think of a position with more disparity between the actual job and people’s impression of what we do.

        1. Harried HR*

          Payroll is a Department that is notoriously ignored people just assume you just push a button and kazam all the taxes, deductions and PTO balances are miraculously correct !!!

          1. k*

            @Harried, don’t forget garnishments, loans, and hours just magically happening in a way that makes everyone happy! -_- (former payroll person here)

            1. Inkognyto*

              as part of a Disaster recovery process. I found out how complicated Payroll, Finance and claims departments are for a Hospital/Healthcare org.

              When the system that transferred them all needs to be rebuilt.
              The whole ERP system is like 20-30 things with tight timings.

          2. Anax*

            Absolutely! I’m currently in incentives compensation, and since my workplace was acquired, my team of 15 people (including 3 coders and some specialist software) is literally being replaced by one person with a spreadsheet.

            She’s a very nice person, but it is NOT going to go well to have all sales commissions for a Fortune 500 company calculated by one person. I don’t think one person will even be able to answer all the complaint calls…

          3. Cj*

            I’m a CPA who has always been employed in public accounting doing taxes, accounting, and payroll. even CPA firms are guilty of thinking this way about payroll.

            two jobs ago, the powers that be assigned employees to do payroll with absolutely no training (probably because the partners at my location were both auditors instead of tax/accounting/payroll people and didn’t know any better).

            I’m not talking about doing it through a company like the ADP where is is mostly data entry. I’m talking about in-house payroll processing, when you need to know how things like how health ins, cafeteria plans, and 401k’s are taxed, and set it up correctly in your software. and know how to calculate and make the payroll deposits, and do the quarterly and year end payroll reports. and know how to set up the9 garnishments correctly, because some of them are limited to a percentage of your pay. and know how and when to make the 401K and garnishment payments. and don’t even get me started on things like shareholder health insurance premiums and personal use of a corporate vehicle.

            there’s a lot of other things you need to know the right can even mention, but those of you who are payroll people know what I’m talking about.

        2. Marcella*

          Just yesterday I was introduced as doing “the fun job.” I do freelance marketing and PR writing.

        3. DEJ*

          Not to mention plenty of people trying to lump communications and marketing together. They should be on the same page but are two different roles.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I do communications. It is absolutely different from marketing.

            And websites might be fun to use, but the backend work is not easy or glamorous. Just because people click around to use them doesn’t mean that’s how they are made or maintained.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            That’s interesting because in my last three jobs, the companies absolutely had Marketing departments that got renamed Communications without anything changing about what they did. The renaming didn’t come from the non-marketing people either.

        4. umami*

          I had someone tell me they were looking at a marketing position because they said they were sure they could just wing it for a while. I’m like ‘do you remember what I do for a living?’

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            It’s so insulting to hear “oh, I can just wing it” or “I’ll learn as I go.” Okay, that’s not how any of this works. Nobody who is trying to actually do their own jobs wants to become a full time teacher or watch their own career hang on the whims of the guy who’s “winging it.”

            People who say this stuff think they are Steve Jobs, but in reality they are versions of Elizabeth Holmes.

        5. Hedgehog O'Brien*

          I also work in Marketing and this could not be more accurate. I’ve met so many people who think the whole field is just coming up with snazzy taglines and great logos, and I’m like, you have no idea how much time I spend with spreadsheets, data, and project plans. Plus I work in the Performing Arts so people think it must be super fun and glamorous all the time. And the fun added bonus of everyone thinks they can do your job because they see advertising.

          1. Media Monkey*

            i work in advertising (no, i don’t make the ads actually, and especially not that one you really hate…) and this x 10000000

        6. Twix*

          In my industry the job that comes to mind is video game developer. A lot of people (including, in my experience, the vast majority of freshmen majoring in it) seem to think you just sit around playing video games all day. In reality a lot of jobs in the field involve 12 hour days for half of what you could earn working 8 in a different software role because so many people are willing to put up with being treated that way to get to work on a particular IP.

        1. umami*

          I was a newspaper editor back in the day (had a whole career in journalism before going into my current field), and I’ll never forget a friend of mine saying, oh, I’m really good at grammar, I could do that job! Um … yeah.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          But…your life isn’t just sitting in a huge Manhattan office with views of the city talking on the phone and going out to dinner with Stephen King????

          1. HALP!*

            I work from mostly in the office, and whilst the role is not very glamorous, people assume I do nothing except type notes and answer phones all day.
            When I explain that I do advocacy work and represent clients during Civil & Administrative tribunal teleconferences, the majority of responses is that “it must be easy, anyone can do that, right?” or “I could easily do what you do!”

            (rolls eyes)

            1. Hot Flash Gordon*

              When I hear that, it’s almost always for customer service or fast food jobs. I just want to say, well, I’m sure they’re hiring!

            2. Charlotte Lucas*

              That actually sounds like it could be extremely draining. But really important work.

            3. Irish Teacher*

              I’m a learning support/resource teacher and also responsible for collecting resource paperwork from teachers who have a couple of hours resource each week so I was asking a French/Spanish teacher one time if she had any resource classes that year and she said no, but she wished she had, “for the break.” Yeah, nice to see how much you value what I do! And it is not a “break” if you are doing it properly. I love it and it has advantages like smaller classes but it also means more planning than mainstream teaching and a fair bit of paperwork.

        3. kim*

          Them: I would love a job where I get paid to read all day!

          Me: I have to actively carve out time in my week – sometimes on my nights and weekends! – to read/edit manuscripts, because of all the other things my job requires! Best of all, it cuts into the time I have available for pleasure reading as well!

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            Librarians get that, too. As a former librarian, it’s amazing to me how many people think librarians don’t do anything but sit around and read books.

            It’s not generally considered a glamour job, though, so there aren’t a lot of people trying desperately to “break in,” lol.

            1. Ariaflame*

              I briefly considered librarian as a career option, but the thought of being surrounded by books I would have no time to read depressed my enthusiasm.

            2. Critical Rolls*

              I don’t know about that. People who love books and being *in* libraries often convince themselves it’s a dream job. And with how tight the industry is, MLS grads absolutely are desperate to break in.

            3. Kes*

              Yeah I wanted to be a librarian because I liked reading books… when I was a kid. As I grew up I realized pretty quickly there was a significant public-facing customer service aspect and that it was not in fact what I wanted to do as a job

      3. londonedit*

        Yep, everyone thinks editors in publishing companies ‘spend all day reading’ and it must be really fun ‘just looking for mistakes in books all the time’. Everyone seems to think my job is really easy and they could just waltz in and start doing it. It is a little bit insulting!

    2. anon teacher*

      Oh, lord, do you work in my office? I’m constantly running around cleaning up after messes that other people made because they weren’t willing to take 5 minutes to send an email asking for help. “Oh, I didn’t understand what that part meant, so I ignored it.” When in fact that part makes perfect sense to me, if they’d only bothered to ask instead of just winging it.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        “Oh, I didn’t understand what that part meant, so I ignored it.”

        Or “Oh, I didn’t think that applied to me.” Or “Well I just assumed….”

        My dude, this is not Minority Report where I can psychically know who might be interested in working with my agency and send out the correct information. You have to be willing to do some research to find out who you need to talk to. And if you don’t – you’re going to have to take your lumps if you make a misstep, because it’s not my fault I didn’t warn you if I didn’t even know who you are!

    3. Lacey*

      I deal with this all the time. I have a job that produces very visible work and everyone wants to do it themselves because it’s fun!

      I’m the only one in the office with 2 decades experience doing it, but people who have never tried it before are confident they know better.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        My work is generally not very visible, but it’s administrative in nature, so everybody and their brother thinks it’s SO EASY. I spend half my time saying things like “that’s great that you have an opinion, but I have a Masters degree and twenty years of experience, so…”

        1. Erin*

          Hello from somebody who spent hours rewriting a speech today for a senior leader because an engineer decided they decided they could just do it theirself.

          1. umami*

            I was actually at an event recently that had an icebreaker where we paired up with someone in the room and had to describe what we do to them without giving our title. They then had to describe your job to the audience. Part of how I was described was ‘[organization] diplomat’ lol (I also do quite a bit of executive-level communications for my colleagues and boss because … let’s just say not everyone is good at it but you can’t tell people that lol)

            1. Gumby*

              Have a former co-worker who told everyone he was a typist.
              “But what do you type?”
              “Mostly ‘select *'”

              He was our DBA.

          2. Extra Anon for This*

            Currently involved in a project that requires cajoling mathemeticians into writing complete sentences in English. Oof.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I’m a software developer, and of all the languages I’ve learned, “non-technical” is the one that has helped me the most in my career. I always try to start with what the listener cares about. No one outside my department cares how data is stored in a database unless I can explain the difference it will make in that person’s work.

          3. goddessoftransitory*

            “Okay… see, that’s giving away trade secrets. And this sentence here is going to get us sued if he says it out loud, and this here? Is factually incorrect in a very basic way.”

      2. Hermione Danger*

        Ah. Yes. I create corporate training. Everyone thinks that because they went to school and took classes they know how training works, or because they are an expert in the topic or are really good at THEIR job, they know how to make effective training that people want to take.
        Narrator: They are rarely able to create effective training that people want to take.

          1. Siege*

            I promise that having redecorated a bathroom does not qualify any of my bosses as a graphic designer so maybe they could stfu with suggestions that go against best practices?

            And for my editing job: yes, everyone does have a book inside them. Must of them should stay there.

            1. M&Ms*

              I had the opposite experience. it was assumed that because I am a graphic artist I must be a good interior designer as well. I must say I did a decent job for an amateur with little budget but it is a whole different set of skills!

              1. Arts Akimbo*

                Ohhh yes. I once got “You’re a painter, so you can sew a slipcover for my sofa, right?”

            2. Pippa K*

              A man with no training in my field once insisted that he should be invited to guest lecture to my Middle East politics class because, and I quote, “I’ve read the Qur’an.”

        1. Pescadero*

          While I’m sure amateur training design is 1000x worse – IME, the professionals are rarely able to create effective training that people want to take.

          1. Silver Robin*

            honestly? I think that has more to do with whether trainings were requested by the people having to take them. A course would have to be out of this world good to get a bunch of folks happy about taking it when they are there against their will.

            And even when requested, you have to account for different levels of knowledge, learning preferences, etc. I remember required courses in my grad program (so in theory everyone is there because they want to be) that I *loved* and found really helpful but that folks from the next cohort found absolutely horrendous because they already knew the 80% of the stuff. But our professors had to teach us all together, so they did their best.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I used to do corporate training. Also love that people would ask what we did when we weren’t training a class. Just sitting and staring, waiting for you to need something, I guess.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Acquaintance messages on social media: “I want to work from home. Can you get me a job doing what you do?”
      Me: “…. do you even know the slightest thing about medical coding?”
      A: “No, but how hard can it be? I just want a job where I can do data entry in my pajamas all day.”
      Me: *looks at certifications, diplomas, continuing education requirements, and eight inch tall stack of coding reference books* (out loud) “I never liked you anyway.” *block*

      Hand to god, this has happened FIVE TIMES in the last couple of years.

      1. Inkognyto*

        I had “Coaching/Mentor” in my Linkedin profile for a while It was part of the list of things I’ve done in my roles. I thought it sounded better than “trainer” as I’ve mentored many co-workers in my career. Every job I’ve been in, people just come to me as ask for assistance, so I figured it looks good in the description field.

        Out of the blue I get a message from someone new to the field I work in. Wanting me to teach/coach them on some areas they struggle in.
        I replied back saying my rate was 1.5x my hourly salary rate. Or we could work out a topic if they had an estimate on what they wanted to learn and what a good flat $ was.
        them: “You said you did coaching/mentoring! Why are you quoting rates?”
        me: “Yes, and this is a website for employers looking to hire folks. You need a skillset. I’ll teach but unless you are paying me it’s not going to be free. I don’t know you, you reached out to me. You not wanting to hire me? I don’t train for free”
        them: “You have mentor/coaching on your profile”
        Me: “Yes, I do that for my employers when I’m hired. I’m experienced in many skillsets in this field and I gladly share my knowledge. The employer hires me, and I negotiate that I’ll be mentoring others as part of my role, thus they are paying me”
        me: “Also if it was an exchange of a skillsets I’d be happy to do that, but from my review of your resume none of your skillsets are new to me”
        them: “stop lying on your resume”
        I’ve removed mentoring and coaching after that.

        The skillset they wanted can be learned by themselves, it would take them setting up the proper environments on the computer and trial and error and some reading. I’m sure there’s free video training on some of it too. Let’s badger people into free training.

        1. Paulina*

          Yikes. That’s a resume item, meaning that it’s a job you can do. JOB. It’s not an offer to do it for free, just like other items on people’s posted resumes are also not offers to do them for free.

  2. Itsa Me, Mario*

    Ugh. I get this sometimes due to the field I work in and high-profile company I work for. Luckily, it’s usually a little more casual than this person is being. For example I get a lot of “Do you know if [huge prominent industry leader company I work for] is hiring?” to which I just recommend that they check out our careers website and let them know that I’m happy to formally recommend them using the appropriate channels for anything they decide to apply for.

    Depending on how delusional this person is, honestly, it might be just the thing to forward the job description along, have your friend read it, and then discuss in detail to what extent they meet the listed qualifications and have proven experience doing the core responsibilities of the job.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I’d only do this for someone who wasn’t nagging me, wasting my time and being insulting about how easy they thought my job was. I think a flat “no, stop asking” would serve OP better.

      There was one person who cold-contacted me on LinkedIn whose name I was going to pass along to my HR. Specifically, I was going to pass along that they were contacting new employees asking for help cheating the coding test. I ended up not doing so only because it turned out that they had gotten my company mixed up with one that was similarly-named.

            1. Non non non all the way home*

              I recently had an awful experience with a nurse practitioner, debating with me that I didn’t have the medical condition which had previously been diagnosed by my doctor who unfortunately was on vacation at the time I needed a prescription renewed. After much arguing about how she knew better than the doctor, while I was struggling to listen while in intense pain just to get her to renew my prescription, she finally agreed to renew it. I will never see her again.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      This also reminds me of when I heard the general counsel of a large professional sports organization speak. She talked about how at previous, less flashy jobs, she controlled a larger budget for retaining outside attorneys, but it was only when she started working in sports that her law school men “friends” reached out.

    2. Nantastic*

      there’s a female comedian who quipped that where females have a uterus, males have audacity.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Okay, but does the audacity stay put, or do men have problems with wandering audacity triggering hysterics? If the latter, is that the cause of mansplaining?

          1. Clare*

            (Un)fun fact! The whole ‘wandering uterus’ thing was an early description of endometriosis. Surgeons kept opening up women with histories of ‘hysteria’ and finding uterine tissue and blood strewn throughout the pelvis. Endometriosis can cause hysterical screaming from pain and/or PMS/PMDD. None of which was a good reason to lock sufferers in ye olde mental institutions, of course. But it answers the question of “How did they come up with such a wild idea???”

            Much like endometrial tissue, around 11% of men have issues with wandering audacity.

            1. Lily*

              My word, that is fascinating! I’m looking this up now, thank you for sharing!
              (I’m medical professional and owner a uterus)

    3. Frickityfrack*

      Meanwhile, I applied for a promotion in my current department, where I’ve had great reviews and where I do little bits and pieces of the work already, and I’m like, “Welp, there’s no way they’re gonna pick me, I’m definitely not getting this.” If these men could just share a little of that unearned confidence, that’d be greaaaat.

      1. Milton's Swingline Stapler*

        You could use what I like to call the “audacity prayer”: “God, grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man.”

    4. Orv*

      Partly it’s believing the myth of the midlife career switch. In reality once you have a couple decades in a particular field, you’re locked in for life. No one does retraining, those days are long gone.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I don’t think it’s that you’re locked in, it’s that it really stinks to have to give up all the benefits your seniority and experience have given you and start again at the bottom. Particularly if the switch is to a career that seems glamorous and therefore the entry-level pay and conditions are shit.

      2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        It’s not a myth, I know several people who have done this. The difference is, they actually invested in undertaking the appropriate training including going back to University and getting the qualifications needed. OPs “friend” could change careers by following their advice, but they just want things handed to them.

        1. londonedit*

          Exactly – I know a few people who have retrained in completely different careers in their 30s/40s, but usually what that entails is quitting their well-paid job and either going back to university, with all its years of study, tuition fees etc, or doing some other form of training while working in an entry-level job with a far lower salary than their previous career offered. Because when you’re completely new to something, you necessarily have to start at the bottom, and/or you have to train. And training can be time-consuming and costly. Of course, if you’re really invested in the new career, you’ll be happy to do it – but it does take a certain amount of privilege (I couldn’t jack in my current career without also moving out of my expensive flat, for example) and a lot of planning and saving and work. Unfortunately some people (like the OP’s friend) seem to think they can just get into a completely new career without actually having to do that work.

          1. AnonORama*

            I changed careers in my mid-30s, and while I didn’t have to go back to school, I did take a significant pay cut to start over. It was 100% worth it in my case, and I pulled it off financially (lots of ramen noodles, but that’s ok — if it’s a carb, I like it). It’s definitely not “have your friend hook you up and you can just start over on a dime.”

    5. CommanderBanana*

      Every day I wake up and look in the mirror and ask the universe for the confidence of a mediocre white man. :D

      (Unfortunately, I’m a minority woman, so getting the rest of the world to give me the benefit of the doubt and let me fail upward has not yet worked.)

      1. Iceless*

        Can I push back on this phrase a little? I understand the sentiment but it is a bit annoying lumping a demographic category as large as white men all together.

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          Isn’t it? It really is annoying *at best* to be lumped in a class of people whom you have nothing in common with other than something superficial. And then judged on it.

            1. Common sense ninja*

              Two wrongs don’t make a right, no matter how emotionally satisfying it is to inflict the wrong.

              1. Amy*

                Pointing out the very real discrimination that happens in hiring isn’t wrong, though. Maybe uncomfortable, but how else can it be fought without calling it out? White men do have privilege women and people of color don’t, unfortunately.

                1. Iceless*

                  It isn’t wrong but it is very obnoxious and is off putting to potential allies. I will say as a white man, hearing this does not make me want to examine my privilege. It makes me feel defensive.

              2. Always a Corncob*

                Please explain to me how the semi-joking phrase “God grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man” is “inflicting a wrong.” The false victimhood any time women dare to call out the privilege of white men is amazing.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Well, in my case, it was a female neighbor who kept bugging me to find her a job where I worked. It’s not just men, but they’re probably louder about it.

  3. Jenga*

    “I have no say in who will be taking over for me, but I can let you know when the job is posted.” Any questions after that, “I don’t know, I’m not involved in the hiring process.”

    1. Seahorse*

      Yup. I’m a librarian, and lots of people think they want to work in libraries.* They’re certainly free to apply, or at least to look at the job postings! I don’t care to crush their daydream or fight with a friend.
      I’m not the one making final hiring decisions anyway, so they can be mad at someone else when they keep getting passed over in favor of people with the required qualifications.

      *Maybe not after the last post

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Lol. Nice call back.
        But yeah, libraries, once you get past all the “oh, you get to read all day.”
        about as much as a bartender gets to drink or a food server gets to eat!

        1. Dr. Rebecca*

          Or academia: “it must be so nice to get summers off!!”

          LOL, I haven’t had a full week off, summer or not, since 2014.

              1. AFac*

                I will admit to taking more time off as a tenured faculty than when I was non-tenured.

                But that’s like saying I’m closer to being a millionaire because I won $2 on a lotto scratcher after spending $50 on tickets.

        2. SwiftSunrise*

          I work in an indie bookstore, and I get that, too.

          There is no reading time on the clock!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I’ve heard so many people get indignant when told that a librarian has a master’s in library science. “I gotta go to school? I can put books on shelves already!”

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I worked as a page in the library (ie, the person who puts books back on the shelves) as a high school job. They hired teenagers, and it paid straight minimum wage. It was actually a pretty good high school job – regular hours, a pleasant workplace, no late night/early morning work. But it wasn’t exactly a career option.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Same! And I worked as a circulation clerk for a bit after college. It was cleaner and nicer than some of my jobs, but it was definitely a part-time job that I left for other opportunities. (You are, however, more likely to have coworkers who can speak intelligently about books, which is important to me.)

    2. StressedButOkay*

      Considering how much this guy is hounding OP, I wouldn’t even crack the door by offering to let him know when her position is posted. Let him know where they post job openings at and walk (run) awaaaay.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, you just know he’s going to put her down as a reference, and then she either has to explain no, actually, I don’t think he’d be good for the job, don’t interview him, or they’d interview him and be like OP wtf were you thinking recommending him? And then she’d have to go back to the first bit.

        1. Itsa Me, Mario*

          I’m almost positive that companies don’t share internal referral or recommendation info with external candidates. I’ve been referred for jobs by friends who already worked there, and I’ve never been given any info about what those people may have said about me. So it’s really up to the LW what they want to do if her friend applies for a job they’re drastically unqualified for.

          1. Tio*

            That’s true, I’m not thinking they will; OP seems to have been mostly upfront about the friend not being qualified anyway. More of it’s an embarrassment if OP’s colleagues think she recommended someone with no qualifications. I have had someone do that before – even recently, in fact – and it’s very odd. It makes me think they don’t know what the job entails or they’re trying to get one over, in some cases.

        2. Khatul Madame*

          That’s why the OP need to admonish her friend against dropping her name if, and when, he applies for the jobs in her industry.

  4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    This reminds me of one of my favorite ask-back questions when someone I manage wants to get promoted, or transferred, or to try out a new task area. “What abilities do you have that you think would be useful there?” is a good way to find out if the person has an accurate idea of what that other job actually entails.

    Unfortunately, it seems like OP’s friend has ju-jitsued my question by saying “it doesn’t matter and I’ll learn on the job.”

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Tell “friend” that people want you to have already done the job before and nobody hires clueless noobs who want to train on the job these days.

      1. pally*

        Exactly! We need someone who will hit the ground running on day 1. Can you do that?

        The OP should qualify this with: “You’ll be expected to do this work entirely without any assist from me.”

      2. Anonym*

        Yeah, it could be helpful to say something like, “There are always a large number of experienced applicants for jobs [like this / in our organization]. There’s no way management would hire someone without experience instead, no matter who recommends them.” (I assume the first part would be met with a recommendation request, thus the last part…)

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      That is a great point.
      I think that OP has wasted too much time with this self absorbed ass, but it might be useful to try one more time,
      “What abilities do you have that you think would be useful there?”
      “it doesn’t matter and I’ll learn on the job.”
      “OK, what do you think you will need to learn?”
      Then let him tell you what he thinks he will be doing.
      I don’t think it will get through his head or his ego, but please ask him and update us. I really want to hear if he thinks someone employed in your company is going to teach him (using your example) how to coach soccer, how to play soccer, how to create a budget for games, equipment, how to create a program and write a grant for support.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Nah – that’s too much effort on the OP’s part, and just opens the door to continued pestering. Not worth the aggravation.

  5. I should really pick a name*

    “I cannot get you a job.”
    “This answer will not change, so please do not bring up this topic again.”

    1. Peanut Hamper*


      When I was teaching, I often had students who would ask the same question over and over again, despite the fact that the answer was always “no”.

      So why did they try? Because they knew if they just kept bugging their parents, by the time they got to the eighth or ninth “no”, that “no” would suddenly become a “yes” because their parents were tired of the question.

      It’s so much easier to just get this out of the way: “You’ve already asked me and the answer is still ‘no’. It’s not going to change. It’s always going to be ‘no’, so you need to stop asking me.”

      This worked. They stopped asking, and they learned that when I said “no” I really, really, really meant “no”.

      1. Other Alice*

        Some people need it spelled out. “Right now it’s no & I don’t mind you asking. If you insist, it’s still going to be a no but I will also be pissed.”

      2. Miss Muffet*

        Feeling so vindicated now that I have taught my kids that pestering me after a ‘no’ ALWAYS reinforces the no. I might give you once shot at presenting a reasoned argument for why it should be yes, but just bugging me about it is going to do nothing but calcify that no even more.

        1. Lurkers R Us*

          I loathe nagging (both giving and receiving), so I made it clear to my daughter from a very young age that if I said, “I’ll think about it” and she kept asking, I’d say always say, “No.”

          I taught her so well that she told a friend of hers who kept asking me about going to the pool to stop because I’d say no otherwise.

          I also tried very hard not to say no if I really meant “I’ll think about it” or “maybe” because I didn’t want to have to backtrack if I changed my mind.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, I remember one particular class who for my first two weeks teaching them argued EVERYTHING. I just kept repeating, “you will not get your way by arguing and shouting,” and finally, after about two weeks, it stopped. It was exhausting and half the time, it might have been easier to give in, but…it would have been creating problems for the future.

    2. Dr. Rebecca*

      With the eventual addition of “even if I could, at this point I WOULD not get you a job; this type of boundary pushing is not acceptable in my field.”*

      *even if it is.

  6. Essentially Cheesy*

    He needs to actually apply and have the experience of HR managers/recruiters tell him no. Many times.

    And yes it’s way past time for you, OP, to be trying to give him guidance that he won’t take.

    1. Alex*

      This is what I was going to say. Just be like, hey, you’re welcome to apply, but I’m not able to hook you up directly.

      1. Common Taters on the Ax*

        I would keep “you’re welcome to apply” out of it, because this guy sounds like he would spin that as, “my friend, Very Experienced Employee, told me to apply.”

    2. Smithy*

      Yeah – this is it.

      For better or worse, there are lots of people (sure, many men – but also just lots of people) who’ve gotten jobs by family and friends in their networks helping them out. A lot. Sometimes it’s the more obvious Daddy Got Me a Job, but very often it’s the case of Network Connection knows of fulltime job or consultancy that’s going to be posted and they grease the hiring wheels. It can be as simple as just letting someone know as soon as a job is posted and giving them a recommendation. Or more blatantly hiring them in a noncompetitive or less competitive processes for a consultancy that turns into a fulltime position when they have a leg up on the candidate pool.

      End result is this person learns how to look for jobs only by working their network, and never going the more blind routes via HR submissions. And so they don’t get rejected often, or when they do – there’s an excuse of a friend letting them down or a friend they can lean on again.

      With all that being said, it’s time to take the “automatic chat” or gray rock approach to this friend. If this friend wants this job, he’s free to apply. As is the rest of the general public. The OP can share when the job is posted, but also share that they’re not involved in the hiring process. If pushed, just continually shrug and say they’re sorry but that’s not how the process works. I know this is irritating, but I think the more the OP tries to explain their sector, the more irritating it will become. Because that’s not the system this guy is trying to work. (If I were the OP, I’d flag to my former boss that this friend might apply and list me as a reference due to their interest – and I wanted to flag that while we know each other socially we’ve never worked together)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I think this is it. There really are many jobs where it is a matter of who you know, not what you know. Years ago I was in a long term temp job with a roomful of other temps. One was this very sweet girl just out of college who was trying to figure out what she wanted to do. She was considering a legal career. She asked us if it would be appropriate for her to ask advice from her aunt, who was a partner in a firm. She assured her that this would be a perfectly normal thing to do, so she gave her aunt a call to discuss the matter. A few days later she got a call from that firm’s HR: “So, I hear that you will be joining us as a paralegal…” We were happy for her, but we also rolled our eyes. Years later I heard that she made partner in the same firm.

        This guy’s mistake is not in thinking that this is how many jobs work. It is in thinking that this is how all jobs work, so why wasn’t this close friend helping him this way?

        1. Smithy*

          Exactly. This is very likely how his world has worked, and is just “applying” for a job in the method that he’s used to. I’ve never applied for a job with a headshot, but that doesn’t mean when performers submit headshots in their industry they’re doing something wrong. Now obviously, if I insisted on auditioning for a film without a headshot or a performer insisted on sending in resumes for my work with headshots – both of us would have flawed approaches. But it’s coming from a place of being inflexible and refusing to learn more so than being wrong all the time.

          To everyone saying don’t tell him to apply to HR because he’ll flag the OP as a reference or return back to the OP and ask for help – honestly – this guy can do that anyways. And if he’s used to this working for him, better to get ahead of it and be prepared for it than be surprised by it. The OP can tell their soon to be former boss someone they know socially is really interested in the position and may apply, and while they might list the OP as a reference – the OP just wants to flag that they’ve never worked together, so the OP can’t serve as a professional reference. Be flat about it and if the OP’s former workplace gets charmed by someone inexperienced – so be it. It won’t be the first or last time a nonprofit fell for that.

          If the friend applies and asks the OP to follow up with HR, the OP can just repeat that’s not how that nonprofit reviews resumes. Don’t give anymore or any less, just keep saying “sorry, I can’t do that.” But if this guy has decided this is his next industry and the OP is his way in, I think it’ll only help the OP in recognizing that this guy is likely using these tactics because a version of them has worked in the past.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I think you nailed it. According to the LW, he basically fell into his current job and has stayed there, so he might indeed assume you just wander up to what you want to do and have a relative or friend enter the door code for you.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Nah. He’ll get a “no” from LW’s HR department, and just ask her to do an end run for him.

      This guy just…does…not….get….it.

      1. StressedButOkay*

        I really don’t see how it’s not fair – that’s what they’re there for, to screen out bad candidates. OP could give them a heads up if the person decides to actually apply like a normal person instead of pestering OP but, if OP wasn’t this middle person and this guy was still like this, they would be dealing with him anyway?

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        As HR – if an employee came to me and told me this was the situation I’d tell them to have them apply so I can give them the professional smack down without the employee having to compromise their friendship. It’s my job, I’d be happy to do it. This sounds really stressful I don’t want someone I work with dealing with this if I can help, especially if that help is well within my scope.

  7. Justin*

    I have a friend like this, listed on LinkedIn as “open to (particularly industry) roles” that he has about 3 weeks (literally) of expeirence in, and then asks other people to help him get in the door before getting mad no one will stick up for him.

    He’s not a bad guy, just very very unaware of his own abilities, probably because he was a praised and successful student when he was younger and never really had to get out of his comfort zone and attain additional skills. I had to (mostly) distance myself for my own stability.

    Please shut this guy down and then if you have to give yourself space from him, do that.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I know that guy. He compares it to all the times he was told “Take this harder class, you can do it!”
      But this is not that.
      But there’s a big difference between, “I can’t get an entry level job in accounting with my degree and three internships because they want people with five years’ experience” and
      “I can’t get an entry level job in the field I’ve not trained for nor worked in by I am a fast learner and hard worker.”

      1. Justin*

        “why don’t they just train me” is a very common post-school attitude but the guy I’m talkin about is 38!

        (There should be more training but it’s got to be more about the org and less about the specific role.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          What it comes down to is: they don’t have to! Depending on the career field, there’s usually tons of fresh young graduates full of the latest training ready to start in any office, bakery, theater or assembly floor that will hire them. They work for less and don’t need to be taught something by a company that doesn’t teach as its business goal.

  8. What is even happening*

    what a dirty bumwipe this dude…

    but also OP, stop engaging! this person is clearly seeing the engagement as an invitation/opportunity to make their case. But… there is no case to be made.

    as my inlaw said, ‘you can’t argue with dumb (he said stupid but I think we don,t have to go so harsh) people’.

    Just. Don’t.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Once someone engages, then it’s only a matter of making really brilliant points until they see the logic of your position and agree that you are right.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Oh my goodness. I’m just visualizing tug of war where nobody will give up.
        OP: f I just say no the right way, he will stop.
        Friend: if I just ask the right way, he will say yes.
        hey, guys. The park is closed. Everyone left. Go home.

  9. Janeric*

    In similar circumstances, I’ve gone with a very flat “Do you think that there’s no skill involved in my job?”

    “And you want me to recommend you when you don’t have those skills. Even though there are many people with those skills. And you’re unwilling to gain those skills before applying for the job.”

    “I won’t be doing that.”

  10. umami*

    Eh, just tell him if he’s really interested and wants to apply, go for it. But you can’t recommend him.

    1. Jellyfish Catcher*

      NEVER tell him to apply. In his world this translates to:
      “X told me to apply = she recommends me!”
      You’ll be tarnished by this, as he’ll now bother the hiring person forever.

      1. Smithy*

        Honestly – that’s not been my experience. Obviously, know your industry, but HR/hiring managers that will make that leap and hold it against you are often not coming from the best places themselves.

        If it’s a normal hiring process, and this guy leaves you as a reference – then the HR system would reach out to you. During that call, you’d share that while you know each other socially – you’ve never worked together and can’t give him a professional reference and for positions above entry level, aren’t sure how much value a personal reference should carry. The HR team conducting the reference check would thank you for clarifying, and put that as a red flag among their review process.

        After the call – the OP can reach out to the guy and ask him to not put the OP as a professional reference anymore because they’ve never worked together (or never worked together in a relevant capacity – i.e. worked together at college work study so many years ago/in a very different industry like teaching improv). Because the industry is so small, the OP has to share that they’ve never worked together in this industry and that will hurt this friend’s otherwise successful application if he’s already made it to the reference check.

        If the friend continues to behave unprofessionally or an HR process doesn’t do reference checks – there’s nothing the OP can do to stop this. Any of us can go online and look for people who have relevant jobs in sectors we want to join, and then list them as our references. If the HR department in question doesn’t check if that person actually knows us and recommends us professionally…..

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah a well functioning HR will see that rec, ask, OP says “lol no”, and it goes no further. Or they give him a courtesy interview and then reject him.

          A well functioning HR is of course not a given, as we know on this site. But I think “don’t tell him to apply or he’ll put your name down” is unnecessarily alarmist. He could do that anyway.

      2. llama research*

        Honestly I would forestall this by telling the hiring manager that you have an acquaintance who has expressed interest in your role but who is not qualified. Otherwise he will use your name whether or not you give him permission.

  11. Melissa*

    I think you can make some progress if you start with an apology, followed by a refusal. “I’m so sorry I made it sound like I could help you get a job in this field. I think I was trying to be nice! I should have been straightforward and more honest with you— I won’t be able to help you get into this field or into my company.”

    1. Silver Robin*

      I disagree. OP did not mislead friend, we do not need friend deciding it is actually OP’s fault for being indirect. OP was very clear, several times, and any reasonable person would have stopped pestering. But not this guy. That is not on OP.

      Friend deserves getting shut down, either via grey rocking or the other suggestions in this thread that point out how insulting/ridiculous he is being.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep. This is not quite victim blaming, but it’s awfully damn close.

        LW has nothing to apologize for. The ‘friend’ has the self-awareness of a rock.

        1. Grits McGee*

          I don’t think this is apologizing for wrongdoing, just using “I’m sorry” as a softener and then giving friend the opportunity to save face by calling it a misunderstanding.

          It’s not the way I would handle it (I’d have a hard time maintaining friendly feelings towards OP’s friend if I were in their place), but I don’t think it’s fair to Melissa to call her suggestion “close to victim blaming”.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            “I’m so sorry I made it sound like I could help you get a job in this field. I think I was trying to be nice! I should have been straightforward and more honest with you— I won’t be able to help you get into this field or into my company.” – yeah, that’s an apology for wrongdoing and not a softener, and she should not be doing this because she has not made it sound like she could get him a job at any point. She has been very clear that it won’t work like that and even given him a suggestion about how to potentially break into the field over time by gaining appropriate experience.

            It may not be victim blaming, but it is again telling OP (who has at least 50% chance of being a woman) to soften and placate to soothe an ego, even if the person with the ego has been pestering her and ignoring boundaries, rather than to clearly communicate in a polite but straightforward manner and to establish a clear boundary. And that type of behavior does no favors to the friend either.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            No, it is called being a doormat and apologizing for no apparent reason to stroke a narcissist’s (layman’s use, not a diagnosis) ego. Any worthwhile friend will appreciate a direct, not rude, but straightforward refusal and establishment of a reasonable boundary. Once you have to play these games to keep the friendship going, it’s best to distance yourself for a while from the relationship and let it recalibrate with time and space.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              Hey, none of us are perfect people. This guy is a close friend of OP; he’s gonna have good qualities too. He has a blind spot about this, and he’s being a jerk about it. But we don’t have to write him off as friend material for it.

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            No it’s accepting fault and setting yourself up for this to be held against you forever by a person who has already proven themselves to be unreasonable. That is not going to preserve the friendship, it’s going to push it closer to the edge.

          3. Silver Robin*

            being pleasant to preserve the friendship is stuff like:

            – keeping the tone breezy when OP says “cannot help you with that!” or changing the subject
            – assuming best intentions when pointing out that Friend is being insulting “I do not think you mean it that way, but by saying you could just learn on the job, you are discounting all the time I spent honing the skills that make me good at this before getting where I am.”

            Friend should be doing the work to preserve the friendship right now because he is the one being a jerk. OP has already done plenty to explain, clearly and kindly. OP can continue to be clear and kind without outright fabricating blame and letting their friend entirely off the hook. If the friendship cannot withstand a correction like the one above, it is not much of a friendship and I wonder at the worth in preserving it.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      No, I think this is not a good idea at all. OP never made it sound like she could get him a job, and he will just blame her or take the apology as an excuse to keep pestering or to become passive aggressive.

  12. Carolyn Burnham*

    This is one where I would be tempted to just tell him to apply and let him get denied. If he puts you as a reference, decline to give one or state his lack of experience. Since he doesn’t seem to learn or absorb the insight OP was given maybe he needs to learn it by experiencing the rejection.

    1. Kan*

      I agree. Tell him to apply, and on the back end, make sure the hiring manager has every opportunity to bin the application. Something like “I tried to discourage him from applying. He hasn’t taken me seriously when I say that he doesn’t have the experience. I cannot provide a recommendation for him. Please do not feel you’re doing ‘due diligence’ by bringing him in for an interview, just because I know him. Feel free to bring him in on his own merits, but I cannot provide a recommendation.”

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I would tell him how to apply, but I would make it clear at the same time that I cannot and will not recommend him. I would also say to him that I will not speak against him, but I will make it clear to anyone who asks that I only know him as a friend and am not aware of any skills he has as a professional that translate to the work we do, but that, again, I know him as a friend and am not familiar with everything about his work experience.

        The reason for this is that I would want it to be clear to him that my telling him how to apply does not mean I am recommending him and that he should be aware what I would say if he name-drops me. I would also be disinclined to actually speak to whether he would be a good personality fit because his behavior in this situation would make me question his professionalism, but I would not mention that to him.

    2. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I would just give the negative reference/decline to give any reference beyond verifying what’s on his resume. I’m almost certain HR doesn’t share info like “your internal reference completely blew up your spot, causing us not to consider hiring you” with candidates.

    1. Stopgap*

      Just that LW didn’t mention any of the friend’s good qualities doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Probably it means they’re not relevant to the current problem.

      1. Ms. Climpson*

        They must be some damn fine qualities to overcome the whole “he refuses to accept that no means no” problem.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Ms. Climpson saw the good in all kinds of people, as evidenced by the reports she wrote to Lord Peter Wimsey.

    2. We still use so much paper!*

      It popped into my head that the relationship is more than “close friend”. What else does OP say that is minimized or disrespected?

  13. Alan*

    LOL. This reminds me of someone who told me (niche software developer, BS and MS in computer science, 40 years experience) that anyone can do what I do with OJT. At the risk of offending cosmetologists, they said “It’s just like hairdressing. It doesn’t require a degree, you just learn as you go.” When I told them that reputable universities (UCLA, Berkeley, many many others) offered PhD programs in computer science they got confused and said “All I know is my next door neighbor is in high school and he does what you do!” :-)

    1. Frickityfrack*

      Oh god, I do NOT want a cosmetologist who learned as they went. Also, legally, they can’t do that in a lot of places and it does require a license, so that person was dumb in more ways than one.

      1. House On The Rock*

        Anyone who rags on hairdressers should be condemned to a purgatory of horrible hair cuts and over processed dye jobs! I respect the hell out of what my stylist (of 20+ years) does and find her far more skilled than many “professionals” with whom I work.

        1. mariemac*

          Totally. My stylist is an expert in geometry and has great spatial visualization and awareness. I call her an expert every time I’m there because *cutting hair is a high skill job*

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        They have to be licensed in my state! And thy have educational and supervised experience requirements to meet before they can get the license.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      In all fairness to these people, their next-door neighbor who is in high school does not do what you do.

      There is code, and then there is code.

      There is your really-cool-html-page-about-minecraft, and then there are massive software projects with hundreds of submodules and dozens of developers.

      The two are not the same. But all these people are seeing is someone typing code into a terminal.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Programmers are not differentiated by what they can do as much as they are differentiated by what they know not to do.

      2. Alan*

        My mother tried to discourage me from computer science because “It’s just pushing buttons in the right order all day long.” And, I mean, she wasn’t wrong :-).

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Does she have this opinion of pilots? Or concert pianists?

          Might be funny if she learns just how hard it can be to get the right order or just how much can go wrong if you get the wrong order!

        2. Elsewise*

          That’s also a good description of my job! After I’ve pushed those buttons in the right order, I hit “send” on the email. Sometimes I also answer the phone and say syllables in the right order. I often open documents, push buttons in the right order, and then go to my email client, push MORE buttons in a DIFFERENT order, and hit send on that. I call that “asking my boss for feedback on the document I’ve drafted”, but those are really just words I put in an order.

        3. Sage*

          Well, this also applies to pianists. I thing every good pianist could tell you how much effort you need to become skilled.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      This doesn’t surprise me one bit, considering that I get people who think that a DVM is a two year degree, or worse, I’ve had a few people think it was some kind of two week job shadowing with a “certificate” at the end. They are absolutely gobsmacked to learn that it’s a full four years, after undergrad.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Of course it is! It is a doctorate and a medical degree for veterinarians! It is like learning to be a doctor of multiple species who cannot tell you what is wrong with them in a direct way! Thank you for what you do each day!

      2. M2RB*

        WHAT. a TWO-YEAR DEGREE. Just…. WHAT.

        As a long-time cat owner, thank you for your hard work. I am so grateful for my vet and the clinic staff.

      3. Alan*

        The funny thing for me is that I’ve heard from multiple DVMs that people typically apply to med school as a backup, because getting into DVM school is so incredibly hard, and the undergrad prep is similar…

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        I had a family member think that – during their senior year of high school, after complaining endlessly and hating any science class, and loudly hating school in general, tell their guidance counselor that they like animals and maybe could go to vet school, that could be fun.

        I am forever grateful that this particular counselor took a deep breath, and very gently but firmly explained why that wouldn’t be very feasible at all and probably not anywhere near enjoyable for Family Member. They were very surprised to learn how much schooling really goes into being a vet and IIRC said something like “isn’t that like how much school doctors have???”

      5. Irish Teacher*

        What? There are people who think being a vet doesn’t require intense study? Here, veterinary medicine requires 601-625 points. 625 is the max you can get and less than 2% of students get over 600.

        It is considered to be in a category with medicine, pharmacy, etc here, the courses you do if you are the kid who gets straight As.

    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      And interestingly, this person was insulting to cosmetologists and stylists. They actually go to school and get certifications, etc., to do what they do. On the job training is part of it, but they aren’t just people who go into a salon with some scissors and a comb and learn by trial and error!

      Not that I am comparing it with what you do, but this person is pretty clueless all around!

    5. starsaphire*


      Umpty years ago, when my sib was in cosmetology school, *after* you completed your lessons and practical course work in all the different areas (hair, nails, skin care, etc.) you then needed one thousand hours of practical experience (with a supervisor checking all your work) to finish your training. And THEN you had to go sit your state board exam to get your license.

      I don’t know what it involves today, but one thousand hours at 40 hours/week is half a year.

      (It was kind of cool to be in the beauty college when someone graduated though – they would let everyone know when they were close, and when they finished out the 1,000th hour, everyone would applaud. Sooo awesome.)

    6. fhqwhgads*

      To these sort of people I’d say something like “sure, you can learn as you go, but if the hiring manager has a stack of applicants and 100 of them don’t need to learn as they go, and you do, what makes you think they’d pick you?”

  14. Kate, short for Bob*

    does this guy have any good points? or does his entitlement leach into every encounter he has?

    1. AMT*

      Yeah, this is barely even a work-related question when it comes down to it. I’m wondering what the LW would do if this guy wouldn’t stop asking them to borrow their car or set them up with their sister. This is a situation that calls for better boundary enforcement, whatever the details.

  15. AMT*

    This is so weirdly common in roles where you can technically learn that role’s skills in a number of disparate fields (i.e. the job doesn’t involve specific technical skills like brain surgery or drafting legal briefs), but they’re also skills the vast majority of people don’t have, even if they think they do. Things like writing, account management, project management, or people management. Inexperienced people see those skills listed for a given job and say, “I’m literate, so I can obviously do this highly difficult, nuanced form of writing!” or “I’m personable, so I can easily deal with this industry’s very important, picky type of client!” And what they don’t get is that a person who does that job competently has tons of experience specific to that type of role that isn’t obvious to an outsider, and is often also innately talented at–say–writing or account management.

    It gets even worse when even management doesn’t understand what the role involves. My wife is one of those highly specific types of writers whose company leadership has decided that virtually *anyone* with a college degree can do the job, largely because management wants to grow the company quickly and these types of writers don’t grow on trees. So you get people with no experience not only being hired into these roles, but having their hubris go unchecked and being treated as though they have the same expertise as people who are good at their jobs because management doesn’t know any better.

    1. Rocky*

      Oh yes your second paragraph struck a chord with me! I recently had to leave a role that I had so much passion for – because the newly appointed leader had no idea what our team actually did and thought any bozo could do it. For example, I hired a trained social researcher to conduct a survey of our highly insular, protective and resistant target audience. He provided a cautiously worded, thoughtful set of questions that would elicit the responses we needed without alienating anyone. Our leader (a lawyer and investigator) insisted on reviewing the questions, and then re-wrote them so they read like an interrogation! She genuinely believed that since she knows how to ask questions of witnesses and wrongdoers, she had the skills to perfect the survey. It was so demoralising for my staff member when the survey had a truly awful response rate.

      1. AMT*

        That is so disheartening. I’ve seen that same thing happen in my field (mental healthcare): competent and well-trained people create an awesome program or service, but they make it look so “easy” that management decides skilled people are not needed to do that work, and that other poorly-trained and culturally incompetent people should be trained to do it instead. And that’s how a trans youth program I worked at got essentially scrapped. Still bitter!

  16. Falling Diphthong*

    I would guess that he saw a Tik Tok that explained that 87% of jobs are awarded based on your connections. And has gone down the path “You couldn’t make a Tik Tok about it if it wasn’t real.”

    It sounds like the current role, that he fell into, might have been exactly that. “Hey, I’ve got a friend, Bob, he could do this job!” And thus did Bob get his current job. And thus will he get all future jobs, in his view.

    1. Van Wilder*

      Given the facts, I would be hesitant to recommend him even if there WERE entry level jobs. The fact that he thinks anyone can just “get him a job” in a high profile industry is just so out of touch with how hiring works.

  17. LoV...*

    This is not the best answer but have you considered telling him that you’re not the hiring manager and have no control over the process, but you’d be happy to pass along his resume. And then when you do pass it along, just make it very clear to the hiring manager you’re doing this as a favor and that you’re not even sure if he’d qualified for an interview.

    Again, not a great answer because as you noted, he’s not qualified, but a bit of a compromise with your friend.

    1. AMT*

      I’m guessing this would lead to more badgering, not less. “Have you talked up my skills to them? Can you submit my resume for another role in X department instead of Y? Can you ask them whether they’ve looked at it yet?” Even if the LW was willing to bother their boss with an unqualified person’s resume, the only guaranteed way to stop the whining is to set a hard boundary and enforce it.

      1. House On The Rock*

        When I was younger I made this mistake a few times – thinking that “just putting in a good word” or passing along a resume couldn’t hurt. Sadly, people like the LW’s friend who have no boundaries or common sense when job seeking will only be encouraged, and will then cast LW in the role of Personal Job Acquisition Liaison. The friend might also start pestering the hiring manager and intimate that LW is on board with that.

        1. AnonAnon*

          Seconding AMT & House on the Rock. Never pass along an unskilled badgerer’s resume. Not even mention it to the boss in passing. You will not come away unscathed from it.

    2. Sage*

      I’m agfraid that giving in will only teaches LW’s friend how much he has to pester her to get what he wants.

  18. Nonprofit Arts Worker*

    I think it’s probably relevant that OP works in a nonprofit field – there’s often a pervasive belief among people who have never worked in nonprofits that anyone can do those jobs, especially if your nonprofit is operating in a ‘soft’ field like arts, humanities, or social causes. Vu Le over at has written about the phenomenon extensively!

    1. Mitford*

      As a former fund raiser, I agree. “Anyone can ask for money,” they say. Go ahead, let them try.

  19. Dr. Prepper*

    This situation is no different than all the MBA graduates in the world that have never even so much as flipped a burger for money as an employee, but expect a junior executive berth at the outset. I have a nephew in this exact situation who feels entitled to a high paying position with zero real world skills, not even an internship and is hitting up all his parent’s friends and acquaintances with “get me a position in your company.”

    1. bamcheeks*

      I totally agree that this is annoying, but I work in higher education and I’m also going to put some of the blame on MBA programmes that basically market themselves as, “give us £20k and then walk into a £70k job” and don’t require you to have any senior-level work experience to get in.

      1. pally*

        Bingo! That seems to be the major selling point for MBA programs.
        And many other grad programs. I’m looking at data science, bioinformatics and the like. Every single school website cites huge starting salaries as reason to enroll in their program. Where do they get these figures from?

        1. AMT*

          My guess is that they took the salary data for people who actually do real-world, high-level jobs with titles that include “data science” or “bioinformatics” (who generally do NOT have these degrees) and spun the data to make it look like you can start with an unrelated undergrad degree and no relevant work experience, do a one-year online “master’s degree” that’s basically just a certificate program, and actually get one of those high-salary jobs.

          1. pally*

            I’d bet a month’s pay you are exactly correct here.

            I’ve taken some of the courses (Python) and what struck me is – I need actual experience doing this** before I could actually claim proficiency of any kind on a resume. $90K -$120K is a fantasy salary.

            ** working with many different data sets all with inherent differences, formats, types, problematic data sets, learning how to do things with the data under direction, and most importantly, criteria for cleaning data.

            That last one really causes me issue. Where I come from, there’s FDA regulations on how to handle data. Cannot just omit data points because they do not fit. Gotta prove the removal doesn’t alter anything nor is it an attempt to hide something (the drug doesn’t work, for example). I tried to ask about this in the class. No real help was offered.

            1. AMT*

              That’s a good point. Even if someone comes out of those programs with technical skills (e.g. general data analysis), a lot of fields rely on highly specific knowledge that is tough to get without starting from an entry-level position and working your way up. An outsider *might* be able to come in from a grad program or a different field with the required technical skills from a program like that, but the industry-specific applications of those skills will always be an issue.

              Plus, a lot of these master’s programs just…don’t teach anything relevant, period. They’re holding tanks for the poorly informed or chronically indecisive. My wife used to work at a publishing company and hired an editorial assistant with a master’s in publishing, which is a top contender for most useless degree, and which practically no one in publishing has. She didn’t expect him to hit the ground running — it’s an assistant job, no one does — but he had, if anything, less knowledge of the field, or even of basic office tasks, than her B.A.-level assistants. He did, however, have an inflated view of his abilities and quit in a huff after a couple of months.

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Law schools got in trouble for publishing misleading information about salaries upon graduation a few years back. Like they based starting salary on those who had a firm job offer at graduation, but did not mention or factor in how many did not have any job at graduation. Stuff like that. Several got sued, and while I do not recall the outcome, it was a big news story and definitely hurt a few schools’ reputations.

          1. Queen of the Mole People*

            I had friends who obtained Law degrees from reputable universities
            Most could not find work in Law firms and ended up working for Legal teams in other organisations.
            The very few that did end up being Lawyers started off with startlingly low salaries, and it took quite a few years for them to even begin raking in big money.

            The common joke was that Law degrees were becoming to new Arts degree.
            Too many law graduates and not enough jobs.

          2. KathyG*

            (mumble mumble) years ago, I went as a friend’s plus-one to his Law School grad banquet. The representative from the provincial Law Society, in his “Welcome to the Profession” speech spent 20 minutes telling the graduates to take their shiny new LLBs and do ANYTHING BUT practice law with them, because there were already too many practicing lawyers in our province.

          3. AnonORama*

            I’m not sure about the outcome either, but this BS was for sure a thing in the 2000s. I was asked to leave my starting salary off my employment survey to avoid damaging the school’s ranking in US News and World Report! They wanted us to report that we were in fact graduating with a job, because this was another ranking factor, but the fact that they were asking individual students to skip this question tells you how panicky they were about this crap. (The class was 200, so it would’ve taken a lot of us to throw it off, and most folks did go BigLaw.)

            I actually had gotten a super-competitive job — a public interest fellowship with 3 rounds of interviews and an extensive application. And the pay wasn’t BigLaw, but it wasn’t awful, particularly if you factored in the loan repayment. But the school didn’t want to see any five-digit numbers on that line if they could avoid it!

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Yeah, law schools have gotten into a lot of trouble for this in the past 15 or so years too!

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I used to know a guy like that, but it was economics. He thought of himself as a high powered economic strategy guy. He was so sure of this that he rendered himself unemployable: not qualified for any job appropriate to his sense of dignity, and not willing to take any job he was qualified for.

    3. Waffles are better than Pancakes, fight me*

      I knew so many Masters of Business/Business Management graduates who were shocked that they weren’t offered managed jobs straight of University, let alone actually get hired straight away. I think the main problem is Universities keep selling these qualifications with seductive (and misleading) descriptions, sparkly promises, and then new graduates end up feeling deceived.

  20. AnneC*

    This happens so much with nonprofits in particular. The nonprofit I work for (which is small but somewhat well-known in the sector) has had to really lay down the law even just where it concerns volunteers. We used to get people just sort of wandering in, announcing they were “volunteering”, and proceeding to just hang out in the lobby all day yammering at the admin assistant. Probably the most audacious one was a guy who started (badly) writing LinkedIn posts claiming to represent our organization. We asked him to please stop, and he begged to be given a chance to become a writer for us, and that if we didn’t like his writing, could we please provide free instructions in English composition? (Needless to say, the answer was “absolutely not”)!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Wow, that’s the personification of the old joke about chutzpah: it’s the guy who kills his parents, then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.

    2. Noel*

      Oh lord, I feel this.

      I am the director of a small nonprofit. Shortly after taking over, I received an email from our board president (a long time colleague) asking about a trifold marketing flier I’d distributed. He was confused over some of my errors, including the fact I listed the wrong person as director! I never made that flier! I’d never seen it before! Someone had decided to do our marketing and created a flyer with our images, logo, colors, branding, and using our voice but got major details wrong. Never did they email me, my predecessor, our board, etc. It’s been months and I’m still flabbergasted.

      1. AnneC*

        Right?! We’ve absolutely dealt with similar stuff. It is frustrating given the tremendous effort and care we’ve put into establishing coherent branding and consistently using it across our web/media/publication presence. People have this idea that “anyone” can make a brochure, but then (as in your situation) they don’t even engage in basic fact-checking for accuracy. And then they seem confused when we aren’t grateful. *headdesk*

  21. HonorBox*

    “Friend, when the job is posted, you can certainly apply. I have no say in the hiring process, and furthermore, because we’re friends, I cannot weigh in on your application, as it would not look good for either of us.”

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      That’s an excellent response! Though I would also make it clear that I also will not be able to get any inside information on candidates, his application, his competition, any of it, so he needs to not ask or I would need to stop all communication until the hiring process is complete.

  22. stacers*

    I would just half-laugh and treat it like a (not very original) joke every time. ‘Ha. I see what you did there.’ Then change the subject. Don’t waste your time explaining, assume he’s not that dumb, because he probably isn’t — he just thinks persistence is a virtue.

    if HE presses it (‘No, I’m serious’), then ‘we’ve been over and over this. No.’

    Still presses? ‘you know my answer. I’m not talking about this anymore.’

    Or, just switch to an ‘are you actually serious?!?’ look, then change the subject. If he presses (‘What?’; then: ‘you know what’), refuse to engage. it’s not worth it.

  23. Coin Purse*

    I’ve had people ask me to get them a job in my field….which requires a nursing license they don’t have. I finally realized they thought little of a nursing education and felt they could “wing it”. It was so demeaning.

      1. AMT*

        Therapist checking in. My profession has the same relationship with “just talking to people about their problems” as the nursing profession has with handing someone an aspirin. But, yeah, random people who are really good at giving advice could tooooootally be just as effective at treating my clients’ OCD.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I work closely with all kinds of mental healthcare professionals, and it is not for the untrained or for the faint of heart! It takes a lot to maintain professionalism in a situation where you are learning a lot of deeply intimate information about your clients, and it takes a lot of skill and training to evaluate and diagnose, create and retain rapport with clients, and address a wide variety of mental health conditions that have wide ranges of severity within each condition!

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I work closely with that profession, and I know how much education and training you get. You and your colleagues are very impressive and perform a vital service that is not something just anyone can perform!

      3. HALP!*

        I used to work as a Support Worker and Case Worker.
        People used to assume all I did was talk to clients, and hang out and chill with them all day long.

        1. Seedless Citrus*

          I was kinda guilty of this years ago…dont hate me!
          My cousin used to work in a Neighbourhood house/Community Centre which had a wide range of programs.
          Patrons ranged from young parents, women fleeing family violence, the elderly, the homeless/disadvantaged, etc.
          I volunteered for 3 weeks, thinking “all I gotta do is help set up these programs and hang out with the peeps, right?”

          Oh let me tell you, in those 3 weeks I was out of my depth..I learnt so much, laughed, cried, and suddenly acquired skills I never had.

          I now have so much respect for people doing Community Work (not that I didnt).

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      See my above about veterinarians. I guess they think it takes two seconds to learn how to give a rabies vaccine, what else do you need to know?

    2. rabbit*

      Ahh, I have one of those jobs. “Cool, you’re a llama groomer? I’ve been thinking about doing that part time for some extra cash. No, I don’t have any qualifications, but I’m great at brushing my own hair, so I bet I’d be good at this too. So, how do I get clients?”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        “Well, it’s very important to stand directly behind the llama, within kicking distance, and poke it with a stick. Go try it, let me know how it goes.”

    3. ZSD*

      Wow. Wow. I do *not* want someone “winging it” as they set up my IV. Or try to safely lift my infirm father. Or…anything else that people with expertise in nursing do. I’m so sorry people have this demeaning attitude toward your skills.

      1. AnonORama*

        No winging it with needles!

        — Sincerely, someone who once let a “trainee” do a blood donation draw and got stabbed 6 times (a have prominent veins, and no one else has ever had to try more than once), had blood shoot up in the air and ruin my outfit, and had an “evening glove” of purple bruising all up my arm for a week. And this was as a perfectly healthy adult doing a routine donation.

    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      “Friends, it requires a nursing license, which requires a degree, some practice experience under supervision, and passing the NCLEX! You can’t get the license without those things, and you cannot get the job without the license. No one will even look at your application again if they see you do not have a license. Apply all you want, but you are wasting your time!”

      Sigh … nursing is a highly skilled profession and the attitudes of some people towards it make me simultaneously angry and depressed sometimes! And I am not even a nurse!

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I personally cannot wait to have my immediate medical future/health/life in the hands of somebody who thinks they can “wing it” with nursing.

      1. AMT*

        This is actually a real problem in healthcare, believe it or not. The people making the decisions in healthcare organizations aren’t the ones doing the work, so they vastly underestimate the skills involved and cut corners on staffing to save money. It’s particularly bad in mental healthcare, since the outcomes tend to be longer-term and not as blood-squirtingly obvious as in physical healthcare: “Sure, give the therapy group to the intern who started yesterday. No need for training. It’s just group therapy! It doesn’t count!”

    6. Academic Librarian too*

      Ohh, you are a librarian. Fabulous! I would love to be a librarian and just read all day.

  24. BellyButton*

    I get my hackles up when people with zero experience in my field think they know more about my job or can do it. I have said, on several occasions “So you think my 2 masters degrees in {field} and 20 yrs experience doesn’t mean anything? ” *raised eyebrows*

  25. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    When he says: “When I point out that there are no entry-level roles and that nobody would hire somebody with no relevant background just because the applicant thinks they can learn the required skills on the job, he says I could recommend him”

    You say “you say that like you think my recommendation would override lack of experience in this field. It won’t”

    And if he continues to push at that point “look dude, the fact that you keep asking shows how ill suited you are to the job; these skills/experiences are what’s necessary, not just a good word from someone whose word wouldn’t even include saying that you have any skills/experience in the field”

  26. Queer Columbo*

    This is so familiar. I’m in a very competitive industry (video games) and have worked at a few Name Brand companies. Boy, when that happens, suddenly there are a lot of people who haven’t spoken to you in years who want an in. The common assumption (in my case) is that because they like games, they would be a good fit. In some cases that may be true, but it is because they have XYZ abilities. I have also often been asked how I “got in” in a tone that sounds like I snuck in. Nope! Been doing this for 15 years, I have shown my value!

    This is all to say: it’s time to be pretty blunt. I would recommend also adding on what Alison said re: undervaluing your experience, because sometimes people really need to hear that in order to understand why you are annoyed with them.

    1. Itsa Me, Mario*

      Ugh. Nothing worse than “How did you get *that*?” in a tone that implies either that they think you’re not qualified for your own job, or that they think there’s some secret trick you can share with them.

    2. One of five in my field*

      Ten years ago I appointed to a very prestigious position at a Big Ten University. It was a national search, extremely competitive, and the short list of contenders was public. I was the dark horse. I was at a national conference soon after my start date, when a shortlisted contender came up to me and asked, “why did they hire you?”
      I guess what he really wanted to say was that he didn’t think that someone of my experience and abilities should have gotten the job and he was the right choice. hmm.

  27. McS*

    I actually think one more explanation is worthwhile. “In order to protect my own professional reputation, I can only recommend people if I’m very confident they’ll be successful. Since I have no experience working with you in this kind of role, I can’t recommend you.” Maybe it sounds harsh, but it’s true. And it’s true of everyone he is probably annoying with similar requests. And it exposes his general lack of professionalism that it’s not obvious to him without you explaining it. Even if someone has my unqualified recommendation, I can’t “get them a job.” The gap between what is remotely appropriate and what he is requesting is vast. It’s not just his qualifications, it’s your experience with him and your power to grant jobs. He’s way out of touch with reality.

  28. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    Valuable point/verbiage I learned from Captain Awkward:

    “I don’t understand why you can’t do this.”

    “You don’t need to understand; you need to ACCEPT {the fact that I cannot get you a job}.”

  29. Mill Miker*

    If he won’t take a no, maybe you can put him off with a very qualified yes? Tell him you’ll recommend him after he meets you half way by getting enough relevant experience that you can make a case. It’s a lot harder to argue with a yes.

  30. SkiGirl*

    I have a relevant story:

    Some years ago I was hiring for a national marketing manager (or assistant manager can’t remember) for an international sporting goods gear and apparel company many years ago- it’s a pretty sexy job.

    One applicant had worked for a shop that sold our stuff, no college/business/marketing background. So, she didn’t make the cut. She wrote back wondering why because she did all the “marketing” at the store- window displays, setting sales/promotions, etc. and was clearly qualified.

    So I wrote her back and explained that I needed someone that had corporate marketing experience- brand development, market analysis, product strategies, national campaigns in print and video, creating reports for corporate presentations, etc.

    She honestly didn’t know the difference beforehand.

    So OP- maybe as a last ditch, you can tell your friend exactly what skills he needs to already possess, and a track record of success in those skills before he can ever be considered. Because he clearly doesn’t understand.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Sounds like that conversation already happened several times and didn’t help. The dude just needs a “no” until he cuts it out.

    2. Plate of Wings*

      This is a terrific anecdote/example and I bet this happens all the time. You don’t know what you don’t know, and different organizations can call different things by the same word.

      Because yeah, for a small business, window displays might be 90% of their marketing. I worked at one of those, a former set designer did window displays that brought in heaps of foot traffic. But the kind of marketing experience you actually needed is way different and probably more in demand.

      I’m going to keep this in mind from now on when I talk to people across my field and collaborators. It’s totally not the OP’s job to triangulate what their pushy friend is missing, but I know I tend to forget what it’s like to be inexperienced!

      1. SkiGirl*

        That’s the reason why it stuck with me! There was such a disconnect. It really made it clear that I too needed to be more clear about what the job requirements were in the future.

  31. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    I work with job seekers who sometimes decide that they are perfect for some sort of other job for which they have limited documented experience — and I’m REALLY good at seeing transferable skills, so it takes a lot for me to get frustrated.

    After the 2nd or 3rd version of the conversation, once we’ve covered all of the relevant content that I can provide, I shift from being an “expert” to asking clarifying questions.
    “Which subject matter experts in this field are you following on social media?”
    “Which companies have you identified as potential employers and how frequently do you check their job boards?”
    “Are you participating in any industry specific groups on LinkedIn?”

    Once I pick up all the loose paper that got blown off my desk by all the wide-eyed blinking they do while they try to answer the questions, I give them homework to find those resources and never hear back from them again.

  32. Common Taters on the Ax*

    I think this guy needs to hear, “I cannot recommend you for the job because it’s clear you would be very bad at it.” And if a follow-up is necessary, “This role requires understanding of how the world works.”

  33. NaoNao*

    Most of the comments focus on how to say “no” in a more effective way, but sometimes “seeking to understand” can sometimes disrupt the “no” “but pleaassseee” loop.

    “Gariffany, I’m confused. I’ve told you “no” quite a few different ways and have gone into a lot of detail about why it won’t work and it’s a bad idea. But you keep bringing it up. It feels like there’s something else going on here. What is that?”

    Or maybe a casual “Timberly, help me understand. What is so urgent and compelling about my field that you keep knocking on a closed door? Honestly I’m baffled.”

  34. MsM*

    Tell him that in addition to the skills and experience gaps you’ve already flagged, being able to gracefully handle when someone tells you something isn’t possible is a particularly important skill in the nonprofit world, especially for anyone who has to interact with funders or other important stakeholders on a regular basis. He’s not impressing you with his enthusiasm or wearing you down by continuing to push this: he’s just proving why he’s the exact opposite of what your colleagues are looking to hire, and he should really ask himself why he’s so determined to switch sectors when reining in the hard-sell instincts is apparently going to be this much of a struggle for him.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      ooh you’re being far too subtle! He doesn’t even understand “no”, how can he understand such nuance?

  35. DrSalty*

    If you care enough to engage further … Next time he brings it up start asking him brutal interview questions to hammer home how little he understands the field.

  36. MuseumChick*

    I am also in a field that a lot of people take a passing interest in or thing they can learn on the job. Its so interesting that people think this way. Anyway, I agree with other commentors and Alison, you need to be more blunt.

  37. Oh boy*

    For a moment I thought I had gone into a fugue state and sent you a nearly identical letter I’d been drafting in my head.

    Except in mine he somehow thought he could be successful in my career right away despite not being in his own. I was spared further inquiries thanks to my apparently inadequate salary though. (Yeah, I’m in nonprofits)

  38. Stifled Creativity*

    I feel these comments so much! I had a friend approach me just a few weeks back about getting hired at my company in a similar position to mine. This friend had it all planned out, “you talk (boss man) into hiring me, you train me, and I could come in making as much as you do…”
    “Whoa, buddy, hold up. I have two relevant degrees and 15 years experience in this field. What value will you bring to the company?”
    “It’s not like the job’s that hard.”
    “Wrong answer.”
    Yes, I’m a woman and my friend is a man. Truthfully, though, this throwaway conversation damaged the friendship. It illuminated for me some yucky parts of his personality that I can’t unsee, y’know?

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I’d really like to know why the LW finds this friendship valuable. He must be pretty awesome otherwise for the LW to put up with all of this crap.

      1. Sage*

        In the past I used to put up with this kind of crap. It was becauseI was so used to be treated so badly that I thought it was my fault this happened. If people keep pressuring me it must have been because I didn’t explain myself well enough.

        I only hope LW thinks about if there are any other red flags on her friendship, because nobody deserves to be pressured like that.

  39. Jaybeetee*

    I’d be tempted to name/ask about the pattern you’re seeing. I’d point out that I’ve already explained to him why I can’t just hook him up with a job, then ask him point blank why he keeps asking.

    Assuming the guy is a friend of yours and a solid guy outside of this issue, there are some sorta-benign possibilities here, in that maybe some part of your prior explanation really didn’t click for some reason, or he’s picked up some stupid idea of “gumption” or something. If it’s a reason you can set him straight on, set him straight and call an end to it.

    Worst-case scenario, he truly doesn’t think much of your job or your own skills, or feels entitled to your “help” for some reason, and if that comes out, you can figure out from there how you want to handle it.

  40. Goldenrod*

    OP, I feel that it might be helpful for you to focus on this part of Alison’s reply:
    “Frankly, it might be worth adding that his certainty that he could step right into your field with no qualifications is pretty insulting to you: he’s devaluing your work, whether he intends to or not.”

    She’s right – it’s a bit insulting for your friend to imply that anyone could just step into your job, without any experience or qualifications!

    I had a friend do this to me. Different situation – I’m an Executive Assistant, so it’s not a “glamour” job, but I’ve been doing this work for 20+ years, and my current job is not entry level.

    My friend wasn’t having luck getting hired for jobs where she could use her Masters degree, so she suggested at one point “Maybe I’ll get a job just like yours.” But my job is not entry level! It was a bit insulting that she thought she could just “slum it” in my job, which I had worked up to over many years of hard work and promotions. She did not have the qualifications to do my job.

    That’s why my suggestion is to simply tell him, next time he asks: “It’s not an entry-level job.”

  41. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

    I think you are past the point where being nice will help. Admittedly I am also about as delicate and polite as a baseball bat, but my reaction to him the next time would be, “No. I cannot get you a job in my field. I will not get you a job in my field. I cannot and will not recommend you. At this point I would actively recommend against hiring you if you applied, as you have consistently refused to listen to literally anything I have told you about the field. You are sorely testing the limits of our friendship. STOP EXPLETIVE ASKING.”

  42. Kella*

    OP, here’s why your friend’s behavior is so infuriating:

    He is asserting that you have the authority and expertise necessary to just “get him a job.”

    But he is refusing to believe that you have the authority and expertise necessary to assess how much experience is necessary to be considered for the job.

    The only way for both of these things to be true at once is if you were not actually qualified to have the job that you do.

    If you want to make one last attempt to explain the situation to him you could explain, “I got this job because I already had X experience. Everyone in this industry has their job because they already had experience in [insert list of contexts]. You do not have X experience. I do not have the power to pull strings and get you a job because there are no strings to be pulled. That is the insider knowledge I have to offer you. If you don’t believe me, there is no point in us continuing to talk about this subject. If you’re not going to listen to information provided by someone already in the industry about how to enter the industry, you’re never going to get a job here.”

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      This. He’s treating her like a mean parent who could buy him a Tickle Me Elmo but refuses to.

  43. Perihelion*

    It seems to me an increaing trend, people not thinking they need knowledge or experience to do something.

    1. Dinwar*

      I blame tech. Or, at least, the myth of the lone genius who’s smarter than everyone else and uses their apparently-unrelated skills to “disrupt” an industry. The charitable reading is that they’re really good at one hard thing, so figure everything else should be easier than that.

      Does it happen? Sure. On occasion, someone from outside a field sees something folks inside the field have missed. And computers, being relatively new technology, tend to do this a lot. However, it’s VASTLY more common for people in the field to be very aware of the issue, and to also be aware of the reasons you can’t just “disrupt” the industry.

      1. AMT*

        I have seen this in soooo many fields, my own (healthcare) included. Healthcare technology companies are currently clogging my inbox trying to get me to (a) sign up to become a provider on their oh-so-innovative telehealth platform that will pay me much less than I make in private practice, because underpaying healthcare professionals is the only way their business model works, (b) buy software that sucks, as anyone with a healthcare background could have told the non-healthcare people who designed it, (c) pay for a provider directory that no one knows about that will not get me enough referrals to make back what I pay for it, or (d) pay for a service that other companies have been providing for years, such as billing, but that the tech company will perform badly, because they don’t know anything about healthcare.

  44. learnedthehardway*

    I think you can tell him that hiring decisions like this are not up to you alone, and that since he does not have experience or any connection with your industry, he would definitely NOT be hired.

    Asking, “Why do you keep bringing this up? I have told you that I cannot hire you and cannot recommend you to anyone, because you don’t have the experience and background that are required for the roles we hire. I can’t put my credibility on the line simply because you want the opportunity. That’s just not the way this works.”

    I would tell him what it takes to get into your industry – ie. he would have to put in significant effort to educate himself, volunteer in the field, and specialize in a relevant area – eg. fund raising or something – before he would even be considered. Tell him that after he’s spent 2 years making the transition, then you would be in a position to refer him to someone else for consideration. (Bet you he doesn’t make the effort.)

    People like this (and I see them in my recruiting work) lack the emotional intelligence and insight to realize that insisting they could do a completely new kind of function/job in a completely new-to-them industry – for which they lack the experience and training – is really very dismissive of people who have worked their way up through the industry into that job. There’s a level of ego and self-delusion there that doesn’t bode well for such a transition.

  45. Justice*

    I think your friend might have a case of GUMPTION! poisoning. If he just keeps pushing, things will go his way!

    That’s the charitable read; he also might just a kind of jerk.

  46. Nom*

    Yep – my job involves a lot of international travel so people really want to know how to get a job at my company. I know they don’t mean it that way but I find it slightly insulting that they think they can just step into a field I very purposefully chose and worked towards. It is possible they could break in but they’d have to really dedicate themselves.

  47. Hills to Die on*

    “I told them to give you my old job and they said no because you don’t have any experience in anything to do with the entire industry.”
    There. You helped and still explained that he needs to get the experience. :)

  48. Esprit de l'escalier*

    If LW is willing to be this blunt (and at this point, they should be), I think it’s time to say “You have zero qualifications for this job, and if I were to refer you it would make me look pretty bizarre. I’m not going to risk tarnishing my professional reputation on this pointless quest of yours.”

  49. KitCaliKat*

    I think this guy worked at my old job. Every time a spot opened up on our fundraising team, with each role requiring a completely different specialization, Bob from Programs would come bouncing over to our director.

    Communications specialist? Bob wanted the job. Database manager? Bob wanted the job. Event planner? Bob wanted the job.

    Had Bob ever done any these things before? Nope. Did Bob actually want to do any of these things long-term? Also nope. But he WANTED to work in fundraising, and he was looking for an easy way into the field, and he DESERVED a spot on our team, gosh darn it!

    Ah, to have the audacity of Bob…

    1. Roy G. Biv*

      Is fundraising easy? I have never been under the impression that fundraising is easy.

      Why was Bob so interested? Was it the perceived prestige? Rubbing elbows with people who have money? Free dinners?

      1. Reality.Bites*

        he’s spent a long time studying embezzling and now wants to put his hard work to use?

  50. Cat named Brian*

    Just tell him to volunteer at the organization. Every non profit I know needs help…

  51. Raida*

    “Mate. In all the time you’ve asked, all the times I’ve pointed to the types of experience that would be valuable, all the times I’ve said you have nothing to offer from your current specialties – you have not bothered to get any experience.
    You haven’t (using soccer as example) volunteered locally, you haven’t started a hobby, you haven’t referee’d a match, you haven’t learnt any sports psychology, sports physiotherapy, you haven’t repaired uniforms, you haven’t maintained the grounds at the local club, you haven’t organised any sports event of any kind.

    On what basis, mate, would I be a reference for this job? What, I’m going to tell people at work “You should talk to my friend! He’s got no special experience and he doesn’t try to get any experience.”


    Seriously mate. What do you reckon I’m going to be selling them on? “He asked me several times” is, like, the least amount of effort you could put in for entering an industry. I’ve also never worked with you so I cannot offer any positive reference as to your capabilities as staff *anyway*. And when you say you’d learn the skills after getting the job… I don’t believe you. You’ve had a couple years to learn anything of use and didn’t, why should I believe you’re really good at learning on the job?

    Also, in case this hasn’t been made clear in the past mate, I cannot *get you* a job. There needs to be a business need that you’d be a solution for or an advertised role. In either case I *still* can’t get you a job because I’ve never worked with you. All I could tell them is that you don’t listen and get pissy when you dn’t get your way, how’s that sound?

  52. Tiger Snake*

    So, what are the private sector roles that do have entry positions that would lead to him being suitable?

    Can’t we explain this less into “you’re not qualified” and more as “apply for these sorts of roles”?

    1. Mighty midget*

      The OP has already outlined a route from his current job to their industry via a non-profit side step. He didn’t go for those roles.

  53. I'm just a teacher*

    “Frankly, it might be worth adding that his certainty that he could step right into your field with no qualifications is pretty insulting to you: he’s devaluing your work, whether he intends to or not. ”
    Thank you for this. For a period of time I would have conversations with people with corporate jobs who would say, when I retire, I am going to teach.

    1. Poppy*

      Like the neurosurgeon who told Margaret Atwood (I think) that when he retired he was going to write a novel. Her response was that when *she* retired, she was going to be a neurosurgeon.

  54. Addison DeWitt*

    A coworker in advertising had a friend, Todd, who was a school principal but wanted to get into advertising. His theory was that if she helped him with his portfolio, he could get a job in two weeks, before school started again.

    It was a running joke after that, if there was a lousy or stupid assignment, maybe we could get Two Week Todd to do it.

  55. Katherine*

    A few days after taking the bar exam, I happened to have dinner with a cousin who thinks he’s a genius. He told me that he was thinking he might just sign up and take the bar exam, he was pretty sure he could pass. I loved the implication that only a dumbass like me would need to go to law school first.

  56. Noel*

    I find it no coincidence that the letter writer is based in the nonprofit sector. Over the years, I’ve noticed many private sector friends think public sector jobs are easier, less competitive, with less required skills. All it takes is a little passion, you know?

  57. Tubby Toast*

    I’ve worked in nonprofit organisations, and the common assumption is that the roles involve easy community work requiring a can do attitude and upbeat personality.
    People never see the behind-the-scenes grunt work that goes into it.

  58. Khatul Madame*

    Boss always late – build her lateness into your schedules, formally or informally. Don’t schedule meetings for 9am if you know she is never in at that time.
    Getting her to apologize may be important to you, but focus on getting the work done.

  59. Ducks, what ducks?*

    I have to wonder if the “friend” comes from a culture where patronage and sinecures are the norm. That is, where if the right, powerful person recommends you, you get the job, regardless of qualifications. Countries with that kind of culture have economies that don’t work very well, but they still exist. Still, this guy needs to be set straight that things don’t work like that here.

  60. SkunkPunter*

    Something similar to LW #1 happened to me a few times when I was working remotely in a health/patient education job around 2010, before remote work was very common. Several people assumed that since it was remote, all that was needed was an interest in healthy living. I even heard it from friends who knew I had a masters degree in the subject area. I don’t know if it was just my ego, but it felt like they were de-valuing both my job and my educational background. I usually pointed out the cut & dry requirements and left it at that – for example, minimum requirement of degree/certification in dietetics or personal training, etc … but sometimes I wish I’d said outright “the job requires more than being a fitness enthusiast or [as in the case of one friend- of-a-friend] an unhealthy obsession with fad diets.”

  61. foxgrove*

    There are full-grown adults out there that truly don’t understand how careers work. A relative of mine had just randomly fell into a career(ish) in his 20s, after years of hourly wage retail jobs where you just fill out an application and get hired 2 days later because they take pretty much anyone with a pulse. Since his “career” (think something like working 3 PT gym personal trainer jobs at once, none of which came with benefits or insurance) had been dead-ended for years, he was trying to get into a new field in his mid-40s (at the urging of his spouse), and I offered to help him with resume and so on.

    He was a nice guy but wow, utterly clueless about how this worked, with no sense of strategy at all. For instance, the whole time he’d been personal training it had never occurred to him to try to get something on the office side of those businesses, which could not only teach him some stuff but also potentially lead to a bigger role. It wasn’t totally his fault–nobody in his immediate family had anything resembling a career so there were no examples growing up. He also had pretty severe ADHD, which made the entire concept of figuring out the steps needed to accomplish a goal very difficult. I did help him improve his materials enough to get him some interviews, but he blew it by not understanding how (or even that) he needed to prepare for them. Many times I sat there there almost in awe at how little he understood–and he was a college-educated man in his 40s. Ultimately he ended up having much better luck signing up at a temp-to-hire agency which did all the legwork for him, and his situation is much better now.

    1. Coin Purse*

      Foxglove, I am seeing midlife cluelessness *a lot*. My peers are retirement age and some have 30-40 year old adult children who have drifted gig to gig. So they reach out to me because I went to nursing school at 30 to change careers. They know I ended up in a nurse case management role (however after 20 years of clinical practice). They think their kids can slip into a case management role “like you did”…

      My advice is always the same….have your adult child work as a nursing assistant at a nursing home for one year. They are ALWAYS hiring. If they survive that I’ll sit down with them and talk about nursing school. But they can’t just ooze into a skill set on a whim.

  62. Somewhere in Texas*

    Anyone else think she should let the hiring manager for her current role know that she is not recommending anyone for the role and that if someone says she is, they are lying?

  63. Heffalump*

    “[H]e basically fell into his current field and then just stayed with it, so maybe he thinks that is the case for every job ….”

    If I were the OP, I’d ask the guy straight up if that’s how he thinks it works, just out of curiosity. It wouldn’t change the fact that I’d tell him to quit bugging me.

    There’s also a big difference between “help me get a job” and “get me a job.”

  64. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    “Frankly, it might be worth adding that his certainty that he could step right into your field with no qualifications is pretty insulting to you: he’s devaluing your work, whether he intends to or not.”

    Yes, very much to this. I’m a translator. This is a job that requires huge cultural baggage as well as top-flight fluency in all languages involved. Yet anyone with a smattering of a foreign language seems to think they can waltz into picking up translations jobs here and there. My friends have often told me that if I have too much work, they could help out. I just nod and say thank you, and continue simply to fit in all the work my direct clients send me, and politely turn down work from agencies if I can’t reasonably fit it in. Apart from the fact that they probably don’t have a good enough level of French to understand the text, they don’t have the translation software installed, and even if they could do the translation (like a friend who’d worked in theatre before would probably be able to translate a press release about a new theatre production), they probably couldn’t do it quickly enough. I mean, if I’m asking for help, it’ll be because it’s urgent, so I’d need them to turn the work in within a very tight time frame. And they’d probably start saying, oh but I was going to see Jane tonight because she’s leaving tomorrow, could I do it on Tuesday?
    Once a friend was at my place when a client request came in. The client was asking me to do an urgent job, but at a lower rate than usual. I simply wrote back to say that my rate was X and I couldn’t go lower than that because it wouldn’t be worth my while, and while I was doing that job I wouldn’t be able to accept better-paid jobs. I then ranted to my friend about agencies always trying to make you lower your rate, and this one was already the agency with the lowest rate among all my customers. My friend promptly said “Oh well if you don’t want to do the job, I’ll do it!” I looked at her and said “are you seriously saying you’ll undercut my rate to get a job? If everyone does that, we’ll end up being paid less than minimum wage for a job that requires minimum five year of higher education.” She didn’t look convinced, so then I said “you don’t even a licence for the translation software, and that would cost about four times what you’d earn on this job”, at which point she looked rather put out.
    So now I just nod and say, sure I’ll keep you in mind.

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