DEAR HARRIETTE: A woman I used to go to school with contacted me the other day and asked if I could help her secure a job at the company I work for. While normally I would be more than happy to help a former classmate, this woman was not particularly nice to me during our time in school. I can't help but feel hesitant about using my professional connections to assist someone who did not treat me kindly in the past. However, I also heard through the grapevine that this woman is currently going through a divorce. I don't know any of the details surrounding her situation, but I do know how difficult it can be to navigate the job market during tough times. I feel a pang of empathy for someone who might be struggling. What would you recommend I do in this situation? -- Former Classmate
DEAR FORMER CLASSMATE: It is fine to have empathy, but don’t forget the past. Find out if you can meet up with this woman to talk to her, either in person or on a video chat. It would be great to see her face when you talk. Ask her about her life. See what she chooses to divulge. Find out her qualifications. If you are to connect her with your employer, you want to make sure that she is a viable candidate. Your reputation will be on the line when you make that connection.
But before connecting her, bring up the elephant in the room. Remind her that when you knew each other in school, she was unkind to you. Tell her you are surprised that she would reach out, but since she has, you think this past behavior needs to be addressed before you move forward. Make her accountable for her actions. How she responds to all of it should determine whether you open the door for her potential entry into your company.