A reader writes:
I have a bit of an awkward situation and would like your advice. In a couple of days, I start a new job at a 10-person organization. The executive director of the new organization just sent out a very nice company-wide email introducing me. He mentioned a few things about me and added, “Please join me in also welcoming her to the team. We’re excited to have her. Attached is her resume.” Except, instead of my resume, he inadvertently attached my offer letter containing my salary. Yikes.
I immediately sent an email just to him, alerting him to the fact the attachment was my offer letter and reattaching my resume for quick reference. He has since sent a new email with my resume out, with a note saying “here is her resume for your review.” But he hasn’t sent anything directly to me about it. I don’t start until Monday, so I’m hoping maybe he’s waiting to say something in person.
I’m wondering how to be proactive in case anything awkward comes up on my first day. I feel like it is going to be the elephant in the room when I start.
Hoping I’m Paid the Same (or Less) than My Colleagues
Wow, that’s awkward. And it’s lame that he didn’t apologize to you, as well as assure you that he’d make sure it didn’t cause any awkwardness with others.
Mistakes do happen. But when you’re dealing with something sensitive like salary information, you really need to take precautions to make sure that you don’t do something like this. And if a mistake happens and it does get released, then you really should take steps to try to clean up your mess. It’s possible that your new boss did take some sort of clean-up step, of course — but he should let you know if he did, because he should realize that you’re probably pretty taken aback by it.
The fact that he doesn’t realize that you’d be alarmed doesn’t speak fantastically well of him. It’s not the sort of thing that would make me tell you to run in the other direction, but you should brace yourself for the possibility that things aren’t done super professionally at this organization. Which, frankly, is pretty likely with a 10-person organization anyway, totally aside from this.
(Alternately, it’s possible that this is one of the rare organizations that makes everyone’s salary public, at least internally. There are some employers that do that, and some employees who like it. I’m guessing that doesn’t explain what happened here — it sounds like it was just a mistake — but you never know.)
In any case, at this point, I don’t think there’s much you can do other than to pretend it didn’t happen. If it does turn out that your salary is pretty different from other people’s and someone comments on it to you, I’d ignore it. If you feel like you have to respond — especially if the person is implying that you’re overpaid or something like that — then simply say, “I worked out my salary directly with Bob and don’t feel comfortable discussing it.”
But there’s a good chance that no one is going to comment to you at all about it, since doing that would take a willingness to be pretty rude.