Ask LH: How Do I Handle My Friend Getting The Job I Wanted?

Ask LH: How Do I Handle My Friend Getting The Job I Wanted?
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Hi Lifehacker! I recently applied for an internal job which unfortunately I didn’t get. One of my friends, however, did get the job. This friend has no job skills, no experience, and no industry knowledge. I’m struggling to understand how he got this role, and what’s more, how I should react when he joyfully reminds me of his new role every other day. Do you have any advice or ways I can handle this? What do you do when your friend gets the job you wanted? Cheers, Disappointment Reminder

Hey DR,

We’ll break this down into two parts:

First: Sorry to hear that you didn’t get the job you wanted. It can be tough to hear that, but I think the very first, and most important, thing to remember is that it doesn’t mean you failed.

The idea of being turned down for a job is one that I have wrestled with multiple times. It should strengthen your resolve to get better and keep working at it. If you look at it as a learning opportunity, then you will be better served the next time around, when you inevitably apply for another role of a similar nature.

Second: I’ll admit that the issue of your unskilled friend getting the job is a tricky one.

Nobody likes someone who gloats or parades their achievements around like they’ve just been appointed Grand Poohbah of the Universe, but nabbing a new job is something that people will naturally feel good about. It’s an achievement and it’s worth celebrating. So one on hand, it’s good to let your (less-skilled) friend have their moment in the sun.

The truth is, if you’re struggling to understand how he got the role, there’s a strong chance that he may not be suited for it anyway. Perhaps he interviewed incredibly well and now he has a chance to show whether or not he is any good and he has to turn that into recognisable results. I think it’s fair for a friend to give another friend the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove themselves to you – they’ve proven it to the employer, so it’s a wait-and-see situation.

However, tact and humility are traits that I’d want to see in an employee, to be honest. I would approach the situation by being a friend first and an employee second. As a friend, you’re totally allowed to say ‘hey, I am happy you got this role but I feel pretty disappointed I didn’t get a shot at it myself’. If your friend can’t see that it’s a little bit of a sore point for you, make it obvious, and if they still can’t see, then they aren’t worthy of the title ‘friend’.

You also may be able to find out a little bit more about why they got the role ahead of you – and that’s another valuable learning experience. I’d love to know why your friend, as unskilled as they are, got the position ahead of you and I think it will tell you a lot about the things you may need to improve upon next time you apply for a similar position. That’s the first thing I’d do, personally, is try and find out how you can use their skills or knowledge to improve your own. They are your friend, after all, and if they’re you’re friend, hopefully they want whats best for you, too.

Still, if it’s hurting you and it’s intentional and you’ve asked your friend to tone it down without any change, then you’re friend is a bully and should be treated as such.

The worst thing to do would be to burn bridges, because who knows, maybe your friend will one day end up being in charge of your job and future, no matter how unskilled they are.

I hope that your future prospects are bright!

Cheers, Lifehacker.

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  • DR, same thing happened to me. I have the skills, friend doesn’t and he was still given the job. No idea how, no idea why. He spends more time at his desk researching illegal ‘things’ than actually doing his job. He actively seeks me out and quizzes me on how I’d handle a situation and then implements it as his own idea.

    My advice is congratulate him and then do as I do now. Apply the pressure. I know for a fact he can’t handle stress and pressure without snapping, and since he’s currently objecting himself with performance enhancing gym juice, I figure, it’s only a matter of time before the bosses regret their choice. Either he snaps and goes into a rage fueled punching match, or he gives up.

    I’m not stressing though, because the guy flat out lied to take the job from me, and even purposefully sabotaged my chance at getting the job.

    Reading that back makes me sound evil, but believe me, if you knew half of what I know about this guy, you would get angry with me for taking it easy on him.

  • You did say it’s internally, so perhaps HR got some feedback from the team members
    … or maybe your manager was not aware you were gonna switch boat or believes he/she needs your skills and experiences more for the works in the pipeline?

    if your friend is truly unfit for the role, he won’t be on for too long

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