Dear Dorothy: She’s flirting to get hired!
Flirting to get hired

Flirting to get hired

How do you handle being around someone who is flirting to get hired?

In our small firm we get along very well and so far I had encouragement and support from my directors to work, gain knowledge and succeed in my career. But just recently there have been some indications that I will get new female colleague in the office who is flirting to get hired. We are similar age I am 27yrs old she is 30.My problem is when she comes to our office to visit my directors she doesn’t talk to me and ignores me. I feel like she is degrading me on purpose.

She flirts with them. She baked a cake for one Director when he had a birthday. The other she called on the phone to sing “happy birthday to you dear”  Yesterday when she came into the office she brought two bottles of wine for them from Porto and none for me. Tonight she’s going out with one of my directors to the movies.

I am asking you how to deal with this kind of situation? Should I come clear about it with my directors? i mean they adore her, they say how she is beautiful, young, smart, nice…everything!  They now make sexual remarks about her and suggest I am “whining.”

I do not want them to mistake me for just being jealous …  A,  Zagreb, Croatia

Hi A  – thanks for your message. Flirting to get hired has been around as long as there have been men, women and jobs. So it’s nothing new.  I understand how difficult, frustrating and threatening it must seem to be around such obviously manipulative behaviour. It is something that some women are well associated with and indeed excel at  – covert manipulation. It makes other women cringe. On top of that, tactics such as exclusion, negative body language, tone of voice are all used to make the target feel insecure and to power play to create a “better than” situation. In your case she has already succeeded. It can become a form of bullying in worst cases. You also have to factor in that your Directors are responding with their hormones to her tactics.  It is always frustrating to observe this “apple for the teacher” behaviour working successfully.

My advice:

  • Reality check: Do a litmus test on your senstitivity. Put all of this in a business context. Does the flirt have a reason to visit you personally and bring you gifts? Is she already personal friends with your Directors? Be honest about your own reactions.
  • Repetition: Has this happened to you before?
  • Mentor: Do you have a mentor, friends or peers to discuss this situation with and support you? I imagine there is no HR function. Join 3Plus if you would like us to find a mentor for your location.
  • Research: Read my post on female bullying!
  • Meeting: Ask for a formal meeting with your Directors to discuss this situation. Establish what the potential role of the newcomer, function and responsibilities will be. Will you have to report to her? She is 3 years older than you so I suspect you might. Does she have a strong professional background and qualifications or just a flirty demeanour? If it’s only the latter she will come unstuck eventually.
  • Stay centred. Focus on your own role, and own results. Ignore this as best as you can and get on with your own top level work.
  • Be professional, correct and courteous yourself.
  • Develop a thicker skin. Read Anne Perschel’s post on the topic.
  • Be recruitment ready: Make sure your CV and LinkedIn profile are up to date. Do you really want to work in a company where senior members of staff blur their professional boundaries and make sexual innuendos about potential employees in the hiring process?
  • If the answer is no – look for another job. You are only 27 and I’m sure will have plenty of options.

Hope this helps good luck!

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3Plus, Dear Dorothy
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Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she joins the dots between organisations, individuals, opportunity and success.


  • Vicki Donlan says:

    My advice would be to stop paying attention to how others in your organization conduct themselves and start raising your own visibility and performance. Women are not the only ones who flirt to get hired and promoted, men are just as guilty, or maybe better said, successful at it. Of course, this does not mean that everyone should and will be successful at using this tactic. Flirting doesn’t work for everyone. The bigger question here is why A is so fixated on the flirt. Her comments display jealousy even though she denies it. As a business coach, I work with corporate women every day about how to advance up the ladder at their organization and the first thing I tell them is to concentrate on what they are doing rather than what others in the company are doing. People advance when they demonstrate their ability to focus on the tasks given to them rather than on the company BS. This does not mean I believe that performance alone will get you where you want to go. Every woman MUST sing her own praises every chance she gets to make sure she is a visible part of the organization. Let others flirt while you get the job done.

  • Victoria says:

    I remember working in situations where as a woman I got very little credence and women routinely flirted to get noticed and get the job done. That means that if you were trying to get something done as a woman you would be dismissed, but if you flirted lightly they might be willing to do it. I would think about what the situation is like in your office and see if you can find any compassion for her. Even if it’s not like that in your office, she may have picked up those habits in other working environments that were like that.

    I think it is worrying to have another female colleague who does this and everyone approves, as it does create a sort of precedent and it might build the expectation that you might be expected to flirt to get things done or build a relationship yourself. I would bring it up in the softest way possible with your line manager. I also really agree with the other comments on how to manage the situation. Good luck! I feel for you.

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