Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Water Under the Bridge” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Water Under the Bridge” who was being considered for a dream job on the other side of the country where she’d working under a man she had a brief affair with years ago. “One’s relationship with one’s boss is a critical one and I have this nagging suspicion that he stills hold a torch for me, crazy as it sounds. If I am offered this job, is it reasonable to think that he can put any old feelings aside so that we can work together? Or would I be foolishly placing myself into a difficult working environment?” After the jump, find out whether or not she’ll be working with her old fling and how she’s handling the situation.

First, a big thank you for selecting my question and for your kind and thoughtful approach to my dilemma. And thank you to commenters who gave me some interesting angles to consider.

The update is that I was not selected for the next (in-person) round of the hiring process so I will not have to face the dilemma after all. However, I did get some answers and some great feedback. Once I knew I had not been selected, I emailed the ex-fling and (politely and professionally) asked if he would share any feedback with me. I explained that I am actively seeking this kind of position and would greatly value any tips (we all know how rare it is to find out what happened behind the scenes of an interview process). He wrote right back and offered that we speak on the phone.

I was really pleased with our call. He was generous and professional in giving me some insight into the process and general advice about my career. It turned out that the hiring committee was impressed with me but I was ultimately beat out by a person with more direct experience. He said he had mixed feelings about it himself because he knows I’d be an asset there and was tempted to push for me but didn’t want to tamper with the process (and I wouldn’t have wanted him to!). He let me know of another similar position in his office that may be opening soon and promised to give me a heads up if it becomes vacant.

Who knows if or when that other position will become available. And I am not sure if I would apply again but our talk did give me some confidence that he is able to be friendly and professional with me and put the past behind us. Not only that, I was reminded of the work philosophy that I always admired in him.

Meantime, my boyfriend and I have started the moving-in process here at home so most of the focus will be on that happy transition for the next few months. Thanks again! — Water Under the Bridge

Thanks for the update! Sounds like it’s all worked out for the best, and at the very least, you’ll have more confidence and insight going into your next job application — wherever that may be. Good luck!

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

19 comments… add one
  • Calle October 3, 2011, 1:23 pm

    Um, am I the only person who thinks calling the guy LW had an affair with and asking for career advice was a bad move? Also, he is going to keep LW in mind for a spot that will most likely open up in the office? Yeah, boundaries people. There is a BIG difference between talking or being friendly with an ex and doing the same with a married man you used to sleep with. Seriously. Say, for example, LW’s affair guy goes into marriage counseling with his wife and confesses everything and LW ends up getting that position in his office? I can maybe understand going for the job in this economy but once LW was rejected I can not believe she reached out to affair guy. Maybe the job rejection was a sign. Anyway, I honestly believe that she is acting like a fool.

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    • lets_be_honest October 3, 2011, 1:26 pm

      I agree. I think it was a bit much to go to him for career advice. I get that he would have been able to give insight as to why she didn’t get the job, but so could any of the people at the job. Not the end of the world, but still.

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      Budjer October 3, 2011, 1:37 pm

      I really don’t think the LW intended to spark anything with the other guy here, but the moves she pulled post interview are exactly the moves people pull to “rekindle” an expired relationship…and…bending over backwards to get her a job there is a huge red flag on the old bosses end.

      The affair happened…. she should stay away from this guy, his family, and pursue a professional career where there isn’t a bunch of underlying b.s. I just can’t believe her dream job could only land her with this man…if that’s the case she should have had some foresight before the deed was done.

      I can’t remember if her current boy friend is aware of this situation? That is sketchy if not…if he does know about it he’s freaking crazy to uproot across the country for that.

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    • ele4phant October 3, 2011, 2:06 pm

      I personally don’t think its that big a deal. It happened a long time ago, and giving feedback on why someone wasn’t hired and offering to clue them in if a position opens up in a different department is not “bending over backwards”, its pretty routine networking. I’ve done such things and gotten similar responses from people I’ve have very little connection with. As a VP, I’m sure his job is to keep an eye out for potential talent, and although he may have loved her once, he still probably is clued in to her capabilities, and is extending her professional courtesy.

      Yes, the reason they know one another is not ordinary, but it sounds like they’ve both moved on and the call was entirely professional.

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    • Yammy October 3, 2011, 2:15 pm

      I disagree. I think it was a good idea for her to reach out for feedback. True, there’s chance that he may interpret her contacting him for career advice as her showing interest, but hopefully they had the one coversation and that was it. There is nothing foolish about trying to gain knowledge and improve oneself. To avoid a productive conversation because it might be awkward or make someone else unhappy or cause random people on the Internet to clutch thier pearls at the inpropriety of it all; now that would be foolish.

      Best wishes on your job search, LW!

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    • Britannia October 3, 2011, 2:43 pm

      Hey… if you have connections, you should use them.

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  • AndreaMarie October 3, 2011, 2:07 pm

    Good to hear your situation worked out, even if you didn’t get the position. And I respectfully diagree with the above posters in regards to reaching out to the ex-fling for feedback. It’s a tough job market out there to say the least, and having access to any sort of inside feedback from your interviewers is golden. Many times people are interviewing for 10+ jobs and not knowing exactly what it is that is holding them back. It was great for the LW to learn why she didn’t get offered her “dream job” now she has some insight on how to achieve it (more direct experience).

    It was great that he was able to keep it cool and professional, which you would assume most grown adults should do in the worklace, regardless of past.

    Now I wouldn’t reach outto him again for advice!

    Good Luck.

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    • amber October 3, 2011, 2:14 pm

      i tend to agree, i think a lot of people would be curious as to why they didn’t get the job. maybe she wanted to ask him just to see if he was the reason she didn’t get it. i also agree that she shouldn’t contact him again.

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      • lets_be_honest October 3, 2011, 2:15 pm

        I agree with this, and of course its good to follow up and ask why, BUT she could’ve asked the person she interviewed with.

      • amber October 3, 2011, 2:28 pm

        true, i think i assumed he was involved with the interview from her first letter. which was why i was thinking she approached him. but, if he wasn’t i can see where it would have been more appropriate to contact the person actually going the interview.

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        Budjer October 3, 2011, 2:54 pm

        If my memory serves me right he was a part of the second round of interviews if she were to get that far, which didn’t end up happening.

      • splashes October 3, 2011, 2:55 pm

        I think the difference is hearing the official corporate feedback versus hearing the real scoop. Hearing the insider feedback from someone you know is going to be much more comprehensive and valuable for marketing yourself. I agree with this is just a form of networking.

      • lets_be_honest October 3, 2011, 2:58 pm

        Yea, you’re right. Agreed.

  • melanie October 3, 2011, 2:10 pm

    I could be way off here, but I sensed ulterior motives. Really hard to believe that there is no job closer to the LW that she could pursue.

    Agreed with Budjer about it being sketchy if the boyfriend didn’t know about the situation.

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    • amber October 3, 2011, 2:12 pm

      i don’t think when she initially applied she realized he worked there. she wasn’t seeking him out she was seeking a job out. and the job market is crap right now, many people are broadening the geographical area in which they pursue jobs.

      now the bf not knowing about it after it happened, that is sketchy. he should have been clued in to what was going on.

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      • melanie October 3, 2011, 2:39 pm

        I didn’t catch that she wasn’t aware that he worked there. Good thing I prefaced it with “I could be way off here” 😉

        I still get a really bad feeling about it all though. Just glad it worked itself out.

      • camille905 October 4, 2011, 9:10 am

        She mentions in her letter that after she got called for an interview she noticed that their recently appointed VP was the guy she had an affair with- so no she didn’t apply with him in mind at all.

    • Rachel October 3, 2011, 2:15 pm

      She said she works in a very narrow field. As someone who is in a pretty small field myself, I plan to look for opportunities wherever they present themselves. You’ve pretty much got to.

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      • ele4phant October 3, 2011, 2:24 pm



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