Guy Betrayed By Friend Who Snuck Expletive Into Cover Letter, Seeks Help Broaching Topic


Read the fine print.

Redditor reasonwhyimunemploye came across a clerical error professionally and personally and needed to unburden and seek guidance. Listen....

After college graduation, I got a job at a start-up in the tech industry. Unfortunately as you may know, many start-ups fail. After about 1.5 years working there, I was out of a job. My closest friend at that job was Beth.

Beth and I decided we were going to make a team effort at finding new jobs, since we knew we were going to be applying at the same jobs anyway. We have very similar experiences and backgrounds.

She and I were incredibly diligent with our job search. I can't stress this enough. I had written six unique cover letters and resumes that served as templates--they highlighted my experiences in ways that catered to the jobs I was applying. Each template had a label and a description. When I applied for a job, I would read the description, match that to whichever template was the most suited, and applied, etc.

Beth did the same thing with hers. We also were incredibly diligent at editing each others resume/cover letters for spelling errors. I know that I read mine over and over and over again, since we all know grammar mistakes are the quickest way to get your job application sent to the trash.

So, here's what happened. It has been six months. I've been incredibly unsuccessful at landing a job, while Beth got one almost immediately. Even though I was unemployed, Beth helped me all the time, reading over my letters, sending out recommendations on my behalf, everything.

Well, guess what? Beth sabotaged me. In my cover letters, she snuck in a "you're not really reading this, f**k you" just smack dab in the middle of my letter. This was AFTER I had poured over every detail for spelling errors. Since I discovered this, I tried to confront her about it, and she has been avoiding me ever since.

Is there anything I can do? I have literally applied for HUNDREDS of positions, and I'm worried that I'm just permanently blacklisted. I'm so angry and so hurt.

The response?

We hate you Beth! 


Honestly, I suspect most cover letters go into the trash can. When I was a hiring manager, I never had one passed along to me from HR. Even if yours was read it was more than likely tossed soon after.

If I was you I'd get a new email address to use, new phone number and use a different address. I might even start using a middle initial or my middle name. This way if they scanned your info into a database your entry will be unique and not linked back to your old resume.

Do not call any places or contact them to explain what happened. Because, as I said, more than likely your snafu either went undiscovered or is forgotten. Don't risk calling more attention to it. As for Beth, obviously drop her as a friend. Then spend a few hours daydreaming revenge. She's a rotten person.


Do not call any places or contact them to explain what happened. Because, as I said, more than likely your snafu either went undiscovered or is forgotten. Don't risk calling more attention to it.

Agreed if I was hiring (and I used to when I worked at start ups) I'd either think 'don't involve me in your drama' or, if I was bored I go dig out your letter just to see it. Then I'd remember you but for completely the wrong reasons.

I like the advice to apply again but with a slightly different name, the chances are I didn't take in the name the first time and wouldn't connect it to the new letter.

I remember getting a completely comedy CV once which included a picture of the guy (shirt off in a forest) surrounded by facts in speech bubbles - one of which was how much he bench pressed and this was for a programmer job. I never remembered his name though, he was just guy who sent us the funny CV.


Red flag, RED FLAG! 


The system my staffing agency relied on used SSN as identifying details because it was a nation-wide system. If anybody created a duplicate account we would find out before they were hired and revert their original account to the first, transferring any new information over.

This system also allowed us to take notes and red flags, so if someone did notice anything strange the first time, they would have flagged it and potentially made this person ineligible for rehire/hire.

Of course, this is just from my experience which isn't saying much because I was just an AdminAssistant at a staffing agency. Just keep it in mind if the company uses PeopleSoft.


Get her in the weeds... 

Buy weed, plant in car, wait till Beth is at work. Anonymous tip.


They matter to me

I've read every cover letter that has come across my desk. In my current field, they matter. I work in government by the way.

Personally I think she should contact these companies and formally apologize. I'd remember something like this.


Talk first...


Right. I've been in high-tech for 20 years. I have compiled an extensive list of technical recruiter contacts that I can share with you. Reach out to them directly, ideally without one of your previous cover letters.

I would also suggest phoning them first, establishing a rapport, and then after they agree to it, send them an email.

PM me directly, and I can send it to you. Most of these recruiters handle world-wide, overseas contract assignments. Not sure what you're looking for, but it might be a fresh start.


Never trust someone else with your future...

I don't even know what to say to this one. That's a really nasty thing to do.

I'm pretty sure there's no legal action not sure if there's any legal action that can be taken, but the best thing you can do is try to repair your reputation. Do you have any other friends who work in the industry? If so, then start talking to them about jobs. You can explain what Beth did and see if any of them would be willing to go to bat for you.

You could also try contacting some of the places you applied to and apologize for the error - maybe explain that someone who was helping you apply to places altered your cover letters without your consent. You may never hear back from them, but it may give you some peace of mind.

In the future, never ever let someone send out cover letters/resumes on your behalf unless they're a headhunter or placement-type person. I'm not even sure if any of this is good advice, but you totally have my sympathies with this one :(


Damn you Beth! 


It's actually blowing me away how horrible Beth is. Like, it's one thing to sabotage somebody you are competing with for jobs. But she got hired almost immediately, OP is still unemployed and has been for six months, yet Beth is STILL out to ruin her career? What the hell?



I would say just be blunt about it. The fact that she's avoiding you means she knows that what she did was completely unprofessional and wrong. Do you think she did this thinking you'd find it eventually and laugh about it or do you think this was a way for her to cut out some of the competition for the jobs? Either way if she doesn't seem way apologetic over it and doesn't do anything to remedy the situation I would suggest just dropping her and start working towards fixing up everything she has ruined.


Don't be crazy! 

You could also try contacting some of the places you applied to and apologize for the error - maybe explain that someone who was helping you apply to places altered your cover letters without your consent.


I hire people often, and plow through hundreds if not thousands of resumes. If I saw a resume with f**k you in it, I'd just toss it without even bothering with the name. After a couple of months, I'd have forgotten about it entirely due to the volume of resumes I see. But contacting employers to specifically remind them and point it out? THAT I would remember, and I'd make a point of remembering your name as a nutjob.



Beth is a psycho. The odds are high that this is not the only evil thing she has done to you without your knowledge.

She may already be in the midst of sabotaging your life in some other way.

You need to get ahead of her before she can do more damage to your life. Reach out to everyone you know and tell them what has been happening. Meanwhile, document everything.


Hey Beth. You work here too?


At the company Beth's employed, did you also apply?

If you did, I'd contact that HR apologizing for your cover letter and explaining to them an employee of theirs sabotaged it. Also, tell them in the letter that while this may not help employment at their company, that this situation, encountering a horrible person (leave out adjective) such as their employee, has taught you a valuable lesson about due diligence and trust.


Move it on up!

Friendship is over. Cut contact and move on with your life. Do not waste an energy trying to talk to Beth, trying to confront her or even to get revenge on her. Either tell her "F**k you" and move on, or tell her nothing and move on.


Let her avoid you. She's a prick so just cut her out of your life. There's no point in confronting her because nothing she could say will make you feel better or undo what happened. I would pass on the word of how much of a scumbag she is if you two have mutual friends though.


Cut her out...


Hey, Bro.

Secret: She's not your friend.

You need to remove that cancer from your life: Either surgically or with a scorched earth approach. Your call. I'm personally a fan of scorched earth.

That takes care of the interpersonal issue.

Job hunting in the tech industry sucks. Consider the apps you've put out a lost cause. There's not much you can do about it. Edit your cover letter, and move on. It's a new day. Start fresh. Also consider contacting some of the consulting and recruiting agencies in your area. They'll eat you up.


The mirror hurts...

For months you didn't read your own cover letter?

What she did is unforgivable in my opinion, but what you did is dumb. Only you are responsible for your life and future, you should have read your OWN cover letter before sending it out to anyone.

This is ultimately your fault.


Beth you done! 

Honestly, I would have already kicked the crap out of Beth. Force her to pay me a couple thousand or I would kick her butt again until she paid it.


Ain't no friend...


I really doubt that there is any legal action for you to take. And even if there was, the cost of a lawyer could be prohibitively expensive for you, and give you rather diminishing returns.

I would also recommend sending this to Alison at the Ask A Manager blog, she'll likely have good advice for you on how to go forward.

As for the relationship part: I hope you've cut this "friend" out of your life for good, and don't hesitate to tell anyone who asks why about what she did.


As a former hiring Manager I will tell you a phone call or email will do no good. It shows me that you relied on someone and didn't follow up on their work for you. Make sense? I would want to know how responsible you are and this proves that you are not . Your intentions are well but something like this needs to blow over. Write up a different cover letter and resume and then in two weeks swing for the fences again.



"Trust but verify."

At best, you were the butt of a prank and the prankster never thought to check in with you. (Highly unlikely as jokesters want to know their joke was a success.) If this was a prank, Beth would have let you know months ago. If it was about ensuring she got a job first, she'd have let you know months ago, too.

Reality: you made a poor decision in trusting someone and an even poorer decision in allowing them to make revisions without your verifying and rereading the entire document. This went on for months. As a former HR admin, the best thing I could say was "You let someone do your work for you and then let it ride for six months without even bothering to rework or revisit your efforts." Even though you were intentionally screwed over, you used the same templates without seeing the edit. That's all on you.

How do you handle Beth? You don't. She knows what she did. There's no salvaging a relationship if there's no trust. Do you think you're going to appeal to her and get some confession of guilt? She let this ride for half a year and willingly listened to you complain about not getting a job. If she gets any emotionally rise from you, you'd just be giving her more value.

Fix your cover letters. Don't ever contact her again. Learn your lesson. Move forward.



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