DEAR HARRIETTE: A college friend called to ask my advice about whether she should take a job at a company I used to work for. She left a message on my voicemail saying that she has been out of work for a few years, and when she learned about this job opportunity, she jumped right away. She was offered the job. Because I worked there for a long time, she had the presence of mind to check in with me before making a decision.
I need to call her back, but I'm not sure what to say. I hated the work environment. The staff was really negative, and I thought it was a toxic place. Do I tell her that? If she needs a job, why should I stand in her way? -- No Endorsement, Washington, D.C.
DEAR NO ENDORSEMENT: Your friend called you because she wanted honest input. That's what you should give.
Speak from your personal experience. Say what you liked and didn't like about working there. Be specific about what you say you hated. Do your best to present an objective view of your experience.
One thing I have done when giving guarded recommendations to people is to say that if the income is critical, they should take the job while keeping in mind that they don't have to be there forever. They should do their best to navigate the job with as little stress as possible, and regularly remember why they accepted the job in the first place. By being objective about the decision to take a job, it can be easier to withstand the difficulties that may come their way.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend dumped me the day after he learned that I lost my job. I used to make a lot of money, and I always helped him financially. He has several children and works intermittently. I helped take care of the kids and helped him pay for everything, because we were a couple. I loved him and thought that's what people did for each other. Now it seems that he was just in it for the money.
I am so hurt. I haven't talked to him for three weeks. I used to see him almost every day. I miss him, and my heart aches. What should I do? -- Alone, San Francisco
DEAR ALONE: Lick your wounds and erase his phone number from your memory bank. He is a user. Chances are that he showed signs of bad behavior before, but you chose to ignore them. It's so easy to want to paint a picture that is rosier than it actually is.
As painful as his deception may be, you are better off without someone who is so callous. Surround yourself with loving friends and family, and exorcise him from your heart. You are more valuable than he ever knew.