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Sunday, January 31, 2010

former coworker hates me; can I apply for a job at her company?

A reader writes:

I'm job hunting and I asked a former colleague about an opportunity at her current job. She wasn't helpful at all. Matter of fact, she changed the subject. I think she doesn't want me working with her, and worse, I think she would speak badly of me if anyone asked about my qualifications. What's strange and most hurtful is that we were once supposed to be friends... at least, that's how she portrayed herself to be my friend while working there. Turns out she wasn't a friend at all.

She isn't really able to speak about my abilities, but I was a target of ugly gossip where we used to work. The rumor monger was a person whom she was friends with, and the attacks were intended to discredit me and my abilities. The rumor spinner and I didn't like each other personally, but I kept it professional by not talking badly about him; he didn’t return the favor. How my former friend fits in is that I later learned that she also contributed to the bad stories going on behind my back while she worked there. She repeated everything I ever told her about anything and added to the stories some things I'd never say. I have nothing to hide, but that is still a horrible thing to do. I never confronted her, because she would deny it, so discussing it kind of defeats any purpose (and I believe in karma). You know the old saying: with a friend like that, who needs enemies? I very slowly stopped communications with her, and never said a word to anyone about the whole situation.

I was hoping that she would have stopped being ugly and in the spirit of laws of attraction, should would try to be a good networking participant, but that isn't happening. I've submitted applications to her employer anyway, because I've been qualified the jobs, but I have a feeling that if they got to the panel for review and she was on it, she would find a way to eliminate me from the process.

Though my former supervisor has given me a fabulous endorsement about my work ethic and quality on my online professional networking profile (and I have a dream of a recommendation from my company's the top executive), I'm not sure anyone from the former colleague's company would go to the site to see them, or give me the benefit of the doubt. I've made peace with her duplicity, but I'm annoyed that I could be left out of consideration, because of her.

Should I try to repair this relationship (because I really need a job), confront her, or should I just continue moving on and stop applying for jobs at her company?

Um, you should stop applying for jobs at her company. Why would you want to work someone with someone who spread negative rumors about you at your last job? She'd be likely to do it again at this one.

You should also stop trying to network with her, as what you've written here indicates that she'd be more likely to harm your efforts than to help them.

Unless her employer is the only employer in a 50-mile radius of you, I can't imagine why you're at all comfortable with the idea of working with her again.

I like that you're trusting and forgiving, but in this case, trusting this person would put you in a dangerous situation. Move on.