my coworker kissed me and now his wife is emailing me, mentioning a bonus on a resume, and more

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

1. My coworker came on to me and now his wife is emailing me

Several months ago, I was at a pub after work with some workmates. Toward the end of the evening, I was aggressively cornered by one of the married men I work with (who I thought was a trusted friend). One minute he was standing next to me, and the next minute he had his hands on me and his mouth on mine. I immediately said NO and pushed him away while he protested with an entitled “Come on!” I asked him why on earth he would do such a thing and mentioned that his wife and young toddler would not appreciate his behavior. He apologized and broke down, telling me that he is having marital problems. I suggested he work on his personal problems and leave me out of it.

I went away from that incident feeling shattered that this person would betray my trust in such a way. I spent the weekend deciding what to do about it. The following week at work, I took him aside and had a follow-up chat with him. After our chat, I had a sense that he understood how inappropriate his behavior had been, and he assured me he was taking steps to deal with his problems in a more constructive way. We were able to maintain a somewhat professional working relationship, although strained at times because I no longer respect or trust him. (Incidentally, he approached me about my seeming negative attitude toward him in the workplace and I explained to him that the incident had affected my trust and respect and that with time it could improve.)

Fast forward to the present day. I received an email from his wife that read, “You kissed my husband? How could you?” I am beyond livid and I have serious concerns about this affecting my employment. What should be my next step, if any? (I should mention that I chose not to discuss the incident with anyone in my workplace and I did not report it since it happened after work hours.) I suspect he told his wife that “we kissed” because he found it a useful driver for whatever his agenda is. I cannot even begin to tell you how helpless I feel.

Tell your coworker ASAP that he needs to do whatever is necessary to ensure that you never have to hear or think about this incident again, and if that doesn’t happen, you’ll file a sexual harassment complaint with HR. Don’t get into a long conversation with him about it; it’s not up for debate. He solves the problem he created or you involve someone who will — and then follow through on that. And in fact, if you don’t get the sense during this conversation that he’s taking you seriously, go straight to HR with it. And don’t feel at all guilty about doing that; you’re entitled to have a work life free of groping hands and accusations from spouses — and that applies to interactions with coworkers outside of work hours too.

2. My otherwise great intern is a sloppy writer

I am supervising a talented and driven summer intern, who is enthusiastic and conscientious in every way but one: he makes many spelling and punctuation errors and randomly capitalizes words inappropriately. I’ve asked him to proofread his work more closely, but that hasn’t fixed the capitalization issue – I tried running one of his paragraphs through Microsoft Word’s grammar checker and it didn’t catch most of the capitalizations. Also, he’s doing a lot of spreadsheet work where a grammar checker doesn’t really help.

The problem is, I don’t know whether this is caused by a learning disability or something that might be sensitive – especially since he is in college, and I can’t imagine that professors are letting this kind of thing go. I know I need to explain to him that his work looks unprofessional and that he needs to fix this; apart from the job he’s doing now, I think avoiding the issue would be a disservice to him. How should I approach this conversation?

Be direct! Don’t worry about dancing around it; it’s kinder to him to deliver clear feedback about this. (Wouldn’t you prefer it that way if you were in his shoes?) I’d say something like this: “I’m finding a number of spelling and punctuation errors in your work, as well as words being capitalized when they should be lowercase. Can we talk through some of these errors so we can figure out if it’s just an oversight that would be fixed if you proofread your work, or whether it would help to talk through what should and shouldn’t be capitalized?” And then do that — and if turns out that he’s really not clear on when he should and shouldn’t capitalize, point him to a helpful online resource like this or this.

(This has the potential to be a demoralizing conversation — it’s embarrassing to be told you don’t know how to capitalize when you’re an adult — so make sure that you’re also giving him positive feedback on the many things it sounds like he’s doing well.)

3. Rejected candidate keeps contacting me

I interviewed a candidate for a position in my company. She was not qualified, and so we moved on. After the interview, she added me on LinkedIn, and I accepted (with some reservations). Now she is constantly contacting me on LinkedIn asking about positions, such as are there any jobs, how is the company doing, and resume advice. Is it better to cut her off completely or better to say, “Don’t call us, we’ll you”?

The kindest option would be to politely ask her to stop. I’d say something like, “Unfortunately, I’m not able to respond to questions like these very often. Thanks for understanding, and good luck.”

4. Mentioning a raise or bonus on resume

Should I include the fact that I received a performance bonus and merit increase on my resume? Not the dollar amount, of course, just that I received them. If so, how should I phrase it?

Nope. You can talk about what you did that merited them, but not the bonus or raise themselves. In part this is just convention, but it’s also about the fact that other employers have no way of knowing what this really represented (some companies give raises and bonuses out liberally — which is why it’s better to focus instead of what that raise of bonus was in response to).

5. Company changed online application providers right after I applied

Yesterday morning, I applied for a job through a company website, which was connected to recruiting software. It took me to a new window to upload my resume and cover letter. After hitting the “send” button, I received an email from the company confirming the receipt of my information. Later that night, when I went back to the company website, I noticed that they changed to a different recruiting software (though the format is similar).

Now I am worried that my information may be discarded due to this change, despite the confirmation email. Should I reapply? What are possible reasons for them to make this change?

Companies periodically change software for all sorts of functions and for all sorts of reasons — you just happened to get them on the day when they were making a change-over, apparently. I wouldn’t worry about your application; they likely have hundreds or thousands in their system, which they certainly will have arrangements to transfer over to their new system.

(If you absolutely must, you could email them in a week to explain that you saw they changed software on the day you applied and you want to make sure your application didn’t get lost in the transition — but this would be more for your peace of mind than a likely need.)

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