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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

February 6, 2017

My friend told me about a job he was excited about and was interviewing for. It sounds like the perfect job for me and I want to apply too. Would this be inappropriate?

Julie Q. Brush

Given that you heard about this new opportunity through your friend – particularly in the context of his own excitement, interest and interviewing, it would be best for you to step aside and allow your friend compete for the opportunity without you in the mix. Even if this “sounds” like the perfect job for you, there is a huge downside potential if you pursue it. First and foremost, you could risk losing your friendship. To go behind your friend’s back and apply for the position yourself would be inconsiderate and undermine your friendship. It’s kind of like dating your friend’s ex without his/her knowledge. It just isn’t cool.

In addition, you also risk tainting your reputation by how others in the community might react if word gets out about this. And make no bones about it, it will get out. Those hearing this story won’t hate you, but they’ll remember and the imprint will be lasting. Do you know that quote about it taking a lifetime to build a good reputation, but only a minute to lose it? Well…

If you are still adamant or think your friend won’t mind, the best approach is to first speak directly with him about it. Let your friend know of your interest and ask whether he is comfortable having you apply. Perhaps your friend won’t care (“May the best wo/man win!”)…. or maybe his reaction will be negative (“You louse, how dare you!”). Either way, you’ll have your answer. And if your friend does give you his blessing, your application for the position will have more virtue and integrity going into the process.

Another option is to wait until your friend completes the interview process and then speak with him about your interest. If your buddy is rejected, you can discuss whether he would be ok if you applied for the job. In either of these scenarios, it is important to talk to your friend before taking any further action. Being upfront and honest about what you want is the healthy way to approach this type of situation.

I understand that “perfect” opportunities don’t come around often. So while it might feel like this is your only shot at career bliss, the reality is that this position isn’t perfect. No position is. There will be many more wonderful opportunities that will arise for you in the future. So I recommend that you sit on the sidelines for this one and cheer your friend on. But if you feel compelled to get in the game, have a mature conversation about your feelings with your friend first and see what unfolds from there. You and your friendship will be the better for it.

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