Ever been uncomfortable because someone flirted with you at work? Someone whose attentions weren't particularly welcome? Someone with the power to affect your career? In the latest installment of Tough Situations, we meet a job seeker who thinks she's facing this problem ... but she's not certain, and she's not even hired yet!
After several months of fruitless job hunting following graduation, Sarah finally finds herself interviewing for the company that she really wants to work for, in the field she wants to get into. The company is being quite thorough. A second round of interviews includes several with employees she’s told will be her peers. These meetings seem to be going great, until the last one of the day. An older gentleman she meets with makes several comments that are just a little too friendly. She’s really not sure if the comments are innuendo, or just a little flaky.
Everything else has gone great. She likes the company, the woman she’d be working for, and all the other prospective coworkers. She’s pretty sure a job offer will be forthcoming. She discusses her concerns with friends. One says “welcome to corporate America.” Another tells her she’s crazy to even consider the job with this red flag already present. A third tells her she needs to contact the company’s HR department and lodge a formal complaint. Hoping for a clear answer, Sarah picks up the phone and calls you for advice.
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Yvonne LaRose, CAC - Organizational Development
(special emphases on diversity, women, accommodations, workplace abuse prevention and abatement, retention, business solutions)
and Career Development Coach
Career and Executive Recruiting Advice
Red flag situations are definitely the time to start looking deeper, asking the hard questions, taking note of how the answers are delivered and whether there are any legitimately satisfying answers. Sarah would be wise to contact the person for whom she'll be working in order to get some clarification.
Direct questioning can be off-putting. Better to call with questions and requests for clarification about job functions, growth potential, and soft issues. Ease the matter of the older gentleman (OG) into the scope of a discussion of her interview interactions with her co-workers or her observations of them. She'll want to find out if working with the OG will be significant and frequent or not. If it is infrequent, there's no need to fret and worry. She can simply keep at a distance or send him an email in response to his requests. If the opposite is true, she will want to mention his overtures and express her concern about the comments. It is very appropriate to ask if any others have spoken of similar experiences with OG.
Armed with answers from the lead person, Sarah can make her decision.
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Barbara Safani has over ten years of experience in career management, recruiting, executive coaching, and organizational development. She partners with both Fortune 100 companies and individuals to deliver targeted programs focusing on job search strategies, networking, interviewing, salary negotiation skills, and resume development.
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My recommendation to Sarah would be to step back and look at the big picture. Make decisions about the quality of the job and the organization based on the corporate and department culture as a whole, not the inconsistency displayed by one person. If this person’s behavior is truly inappropriate or otherwise questionable, chances are that someone internal to the organization has already brought their concerns to the attention of the appropriate person. Better them than Sarah. If Sarah accepts the position, she needs to spend the first three months on the job getting a handle on the new culture and fitting in. Making a formal complaint prior to an employment offer or immediately afterwards is not a prudent strategy. If Sarah loves the company, the job, and the majority of her co-workers, she should continue to pursue the opportunity and do everything possible to get the offer.
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Phil is a motivational speaker and self-improvement advocate and challenges you to "Stop having a nice day...and Make it Great!" Phil's website is updated regularly with thoughts about how you can take control of your life and stop letting life take control of you. Phil's new book 10 Ways To Make It Great! is now available for purchase at http://makeitgreatbook.com.
This situation is obviously of big concern to Sarah, and she needs to think about who she might know on the inside that she trusts to give her an unbiased answer. Ask a general question about the "Older Gentlemen" to these trustworthy folks in a generic, roundabout way. A comment like "OG seemed friendly," can often trigger responses that give clues as to how these people might feel about the OG, and see what they have to say. It could be a case of being on heightened alert because of the interview process. Flaky people are a part of any job. Frisky people are not.
It sounds like everything else is a fit, and it'd be a shame to lose a great opportunity over one comment, which might not have meant anything. Asking some insiders their opinion in a non-threatening way should allow Sarah to make the best decision for her!