my coworker is showing lingerie photos of me to guys at work, I missed a great candidate’s application, and more

It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker is showing photos of me in lingerie to guys at work

I had a small relationship with a coworker. I apparently sent him some pictures of me in lingerie. He showed most of the guys at work. I didn’t know this. I cut it off with him. I ended up dating someone else from work and we got married. Now the pics have gone viral and he still has them and is showing them. Is this illegal?

This guy is an ass.

If he still works with you, it’s sexual harassment and you should report it to your company immediately and they’ll have a legal obligation to stop it and deal with the dude. Whether there are laws that protect you aside from that will depend on what state you live in; a couple of states have laws against “revenge porn” that prohibit this kind of thing. (Although those laws might be specific to nude photos; I’m not sure if lingerie would be covered or not.)

2. A great candidate applied for a job, but I never saw her application

Recently, a senior person outside our organization that I respect and sometimes work with inquired about a position for which I was the hiring manager. I answered her and encouraged her to apply for the job before a certain date if she was interested. She never replied to my email, nor did I get an application from HR, so I assumed she wasn’t interested in the position because the salary range for the position wasn’t aligned with her interests (totally reasonable given her seniority).

I hired a great person, but as our HR manager and I were going through the applicants so that we might send out rejection notes (he is the gateway through which all applicants pass), I learned that this senior person did apply through normal challenges but her application was never forwarded to me due to a HR administrative oversight! HR was very apologetic to me, but I feel terrible, as this person and I move in the same circles, and we may want to engage her for a consultancy in the future (not to mention she would have been a great candidate and deserved to be fairly and fully considered). Any advice on how I can give the candidate a fair response that also preserves our professional relationship?

I would be straight with her: “Jane, I never saw an application from you so assumed you had decided not to apply — and then was horrified this week to learn from our HR manager that you did in fact apply and due to an HR oversight never made it to me. I’m absolutely mortified by this. If I had known you applied, I would have been thrilled, and you would have heard from me right away! We’ve already hired for the role so I unfortunately can’t undo the error now, but I wanted you to know what happened (and that I’m making sure there are no such errors in the future). If we have future openings, I’ll be sure to reach out to you personally.”

And then really delve into how this happened and how HR is ensuring it won’t happen again. You only learned about it this time because you happened to know the candidate, which makes me wonder if other great candidates aren’t being sent to you too. Sure, occasional mistakes do happen; people are human. But I’d look into this enough to determine if it truly was a one-time error or evidence of a more systemic problem with how they’re screening resumes.

3. Responding when your boss corrects your grammar

What is the correct way to respond when your boss stops you mid-sentence to correct your grammar? I said “irregardless” today instead of “regardless,” and she held her hand up to my mouth and told me never to say it again.

“Thanks for the correction.”

She’s your manager and she’s allowed to correct your grammar, even mid-sentence. But putting her hand over your mouth might have been over the line, depending on your relationship with her; in some relationships it would be friendly/affectionate/silly, and others it would be disrespectful and rude. If you found it unwelcome — I think I would have — you could add on, “Just the verbal correction is plenty.”

4. Logistical complications when interviewing for the job of someone who doesn’t know she’s about to be replaced

Recently I had a job interview for an executive assistant position at a fairly small company. The person currently in the position does not know she is about to be replaced. I would like to send a thank-you note or email to the interviewer, but am concerned that this assistant receives all incoming mail and perhaps also checks emails and voice mails. Would you suggest a phone call to the interviewer, hanging up if voice mail picks up? Should I just leave it and hope for the best?

Don’t call — calling just to say thanks for the interview (instead of sending a note) will seem a little off. It’s good that you’re being sensitive to the confidentiality of the hiring process, but I’d just go ahead and email your note, as long as you can use her direct email address (as opposed to a general company one). It’s unlikely that someone engaged in a confidential hiring process would have the very person who’s she’s secretly trying to replace checking her email.

For what it’s worth … I’m not a fan of interviewing for someone’s replacement when they don’t know that they’re about to be fired. It’s shady, it’s not especially fair or kind, and it says the employer doesn’t don’t put a high premium on integrity or transparency. Why aren’t they just being honest with her that it’s not working out?

I’d do a lot of probing into culture and management style as you’re considering working there, because it’s possible that this is a sign of a somewhat messed up management team there.

5. Will getting a GED hurt me later in life?

I am a high school student planning on getting my GED at 16 and heading straight to college. I should graduate with a bachelors at the age of 20, but I don’t want the fact that I have a GED to be a limiting factor later in my career. Would my GED hinder my progress in life? Even if I got one simply to get into college faster? Any and all advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

It will not matter one bit. The delightful discovery that you are about to make is that no one cares about anything that happened in high school once you are out of it. High school will never go on your resume once you’re in college, so not only will no one care that you got a GED once you’ve graduated from college, but no one will even know about it!

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