my coworker won’t stop touching and complimenting me, and more — Ask a Manager

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. My coworker won’t stop touching and complimenting me (#2 at the link)

I acted very cold and avoided him the best I could, but he wasn’t totally getting it and then one day I wore a new lotion and he immediately said, “Did you change your scent?” I said yes. He said I could tell because “I know your smell.” I guess that’s was my final straw because I finally told him he’s creepy as hell and the comments he make really bother me. He got defensive and actually quite hostile towards me, even saying I am acting like I have “white privilege.” I was shocked and angry and after that totally avoided him the best I could. He quickly moved on to a new female hire … following her and bugging her non-stop … but luckily he was also engaging in some dishonest stuff at work no one knew about and he was fired. Work’s been wonderful ever since! He’s gone.

2. How do I stop myself from getting overly attached in the application process?

Thank you for publishing my letter! A lot of the commenters mentioned — and I noticed this as well — that your analogy to dating was pretty spot on, and with that perspective (as well as help from the aforementioned mental health professionals and my wife) the job hunt … well, I won’t say it got easier prima facie, but it got easier to manage.

In the meanwhile, I’ve had two jobs. One was with a Trust and Estates firm run by a lawyer who was brilliant at what she did, but kind of threw me too quickly into the fire without any training and got stressed by the fact that, well, I didn’t know what I was doing, so she conceded that she should have hired someone with more experience, and we parted ways amicably after about two weeks. The second job — where I am now — is with a business litigator who’s … old school is the best way to describe him. He pays me well and he hands out bonuses like it’s going out of style, but he’s cantankerous and curmudgeonly, and the benefits here are middling. Oh, and he smokes cigarettes in his office, something I didn’t know during our one Zoom interview and something that definitely would have given me pause if I was able to interview in person. So I’m still job hunting — in fact, as I write this, I got off a first round interview with a pretty big in-house financial counseling firm that seems like it would be a good fit for me, and if anything happens between now and when this is published, I’ll be sure to shoot off an email, or leave a comment if this is published by the time I hear news.

3. Our new admin crashed the company car and lied about it (first update)

Pam stuck around another nine months, doing fine but not amazing, and then left for a new position. While she was a decent employee and did a lot of things well, in the end her departure worked well for the business. There were no issues with trust as she didn’t do anything to make anyone question her truthfulness again and the accident quickly became water under the bridge. However, it was difficult to keep her workload full: she repeatedly made small (but not negligible) mistakes that made leadership nervous about handing her larger responsibilities with big repercussions for an error. Her manager tried to work with her on the attention to detail but it never consistently got better, and she must’ve seen the writing on the wall and found a position that was a better fit. We wish her all the best — no regrets with the original decision, but not amazing “this was 100% the right choice” update either.

4. Calling students “clients” when transitioning out of teaching (#4 at the link)

I am the (former) teacher who asked about translating my classroom skills into corporate-speak.  I’m happy to report that I found a job outside of teaching not long after you printed my letter. I adjusted my resume to focus not only on the results of my work, but the how (example: “Led the creation and execution of a site-wide training plan by establishing a working group and developing customized training materials, raising pass rates from 17% to 76% in one year”). It took me a while to get over the imposter syndrome of feeling like my work was irrelevant or somehow juvenile, and finding pride in my accomplishments helped me to see more clearly the value I can bring.

To any teachers who feel like your experience is irrelevant: you have so much to offer! Everything we do in the classroom, from analyzing data to long-term project planning, has a corollary outside of education. The only difference is you’ll have half as much to keep track of mentally, twice the autonomy, and infinitely greater room to grow professionally. I have been promoted twice, earn more money than would have taken me years to achieve on the district salary schedule, and was able to take a real maternity leave! Speaking of which, if you’re in California, urge your state senator to pass Assembly Bill 2901, which would allow teachers to take paid maternity leave (instead of hoarding sick days and trying to time for a summer baby like I and my former colleagues did).

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