I work in the public sector (US) in scientific research. I have been in my current position for over 10 years and have done well, working on challenging projects, developing good solutions, building strong relationships, cultivating new customers, and growing my skill set. My background is unique (I'm the only person in my division of ~3000 people with my education and training).

Over the past 2 years, I have been asked many times to support our sister organization, which also has no one with this background, in this unique area. My division strongly encouraged me to help our sister division, but to do it on my own time, which I was willing to do because the work was interesting and thought it was important to support. This work is the closest to my own background and training of anything I've done since I started working here 10 years ago.

I came to find out this week that the sister division is creating a new position to do the things that I am doing, but did not let me know about it because they have someone specific in mind, a person who doesn't even work for our overall organization. They did not post it on the internal position board, which is highly irregular.

The person who pushed to create the position (call them "A"), basically wants to hire their very good buddy (call them "B"), who has similar background as I do, but hasn't put in the time and effort that I have. B is very political and not only ignores a lot of the important technical stuff, B also cuts corners on other projects. If I were to continue supporting this effort, I'd be working with B, and I feel very uncomfortable with that.

Like I said, it's the public sector, so targeting a position for a specific person and not allowing for fair competition, is illegal. If I blow the whistle, I'd likely cause problems between our divisions because it would be my word against A & B.

Alternatively, I could apply for the position myself, but I'm pretty sure B is going to get the job because A has a lot of influence.

I figure I have 4 options:

  1. Do nothing, let this happen and deal with it.
  2. Blow the whistle.
  3. Walk away from the effort entirely.
  4. Apply for the position.

Is it worth it to apply, or should I chose one of the other options?

  • 1
    So you did this work and are being shafted? Learn the lesson well and walk away.
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 15, 2020 at 18:47
  • 1
    Why do you think they didn't create the new position for you? Are you prepared to advertise the willingness to leave your present position? Did they know that? Perhaps let the chips fall where they may...let the new person sink or swim, however it works out. Enjoy not working two jobs and maybe find new challenging things in your current job. It's a 'sticky-wicket' and standing back with gracious humility may offer opportunities in the future. Best wishes.
    – tblue
    Nov 15, 2020 at 18:57
  • 2
    The fact that you did some work for free and then they hire someone is suspicious...Could it be possible that the new will come in and claim your work as his to get off to a great start so he has more slack?
    – Al rl
    Nov 15, 2020 at 21:58
  • 2
    "My division strongly encouraged me to help our sister division". Yes, but is your division willing to lose you if you want to jump divisions. Maybe they made a deal with their sister division: "You can have this person, but please do not poach them." Nov 15, 2020 at 23:33
  • Is "B is very political" code for "B has political views which I don't agree with"?
    – Philipp
    Nov 16, 2020 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


No offence, but this seems like sour grapes.

You did some good work for free which convinced them they need to fill a position, but they didn't quietly offer it to you. There may be many reasons for this including thinking that they're taking your valuable time. But you've reached the conclusion it's nepotism and are listing the candidates shortcomings in your head.

If you want the position, apply for it.

  • 3
    I agree with this, and add that it's quite possible you convinced them that they need more of you, not you shifted sideways. Nov 16, 2020 at 20:37

How was anyone at the sister division supposed to know that you even wanted to change jobs? Secondly, it might be unethical or damage relationships between managers for them to try and poach you from your current job.

It's not unusual for people to get jobs based on connections. Even if they let you apply for the job they could then find any of 100 reasons to reject you and you wouldn't have a leg to stand on. They aren't obligated to give the job to you.

Just remember: never work for free unless it's for a personal friend who has or is willing to do the same for you. And even then, I doubt most friends would ever ask you to work for free.

If I'm in your shoes I would be walking away but I wouldn't complain. The time to complain was when your boss first made the suggestion that you work for free. You should've laughed in his face and said you'll need a a nice bonus from somebody's budget. Walk away. Or cut back your involvement to very little until they have their new person.


Public position announcements (and tenders) are a good thing, but there are always ways around them.

Anecdote: the gov't of some country issued an invitation to tender for politicians' (chauffeured) cars, where they specified wheel base at least this much, weight at most this much and something about the engine, fuel efficiency, etc. As a result, only a single spec of a single model from a single manufacturer fit the bill. So it was clear that the tender was for that specific brand and model. Now the question: was that good or bad? On one hand, this could be a backhand deal (esp. if it were about large contract), on the other, it could be just damn practical (do you want your PM to be driven in chevy spark of fiat punto?).

My 2c: you need to decide, whether your organisation, is best served by a politically-savvy appointee, or a technocrat. Likewise, if your care about the work that your org does.

Bosses like A come and go, likewise, colleagues like B come and go, and your relationship to them can also change. You could aim to snatch this position; or to develop B into an ally, making a total of 2 in your profession in this org rather than 1; or, you could apply with the intention of B getting selected, sue the org., take a few years in court, hopefully win an retire.

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