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I am in the middle of a job search...putting feelers out. I hired a resume writer who shares the same name as a colleague. I mistakenly emailed my colleague (from my personal email account after work hours) information that was intended for the resume writer.

I am panicking. What is the proper response? The email contained:

  • data about project growth under my leadership
  • it also listed the job in which I was interested in applying with another organization
  • a statement that I had experience working with the executive/colleague to whom the email was mistakenly sent.

Do I email my colleague and politely ask her to disregard the private, confidential email? Or do I ignore it in hopes that she doesn't share my job search?

  • This is similar but perhaps not quite a duplicate: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/9535/… – Jane S Jun 30 '15 at 4:29
  • For what it's worth: some (far from all!) Email systems have an "oops" function that will let you call back mail if you realize you sent it to the wrong person, and some even send an automatic "please disregard" in case they'd already looked at it. Your personal email probably can't do this, but when you do land the job it's worth knowing whether your company email can. (Common error, obviously!) – keshlam Jun 30 '15 at 5:10
  • Thank you so much, Keshlam! This is good to know. I have now switched my personal email to gmail after this experience. There appears to be a retract feature. – Kaye Jun 30 '15 at 6:57
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    @Kaye, be advised that GMail's "retract feature" is only good for a brief period after you click Send. In my settings, I have options for 10, 20 or 30 seconds. Once that period has expired, that email is out of your control. – alroc Jun 30 '15 at 19:41
  • Thanks, @alroc. I didn't realize it was so limited. I want to find a better safeguard. Look forward to those who know of one. – Kaye Jul 1 '15 at 3:03
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Email her immediately, apologise and politely ask her to disregard the email as it is confidential and was intended for someone else.

It would best to be up front about it. Hoping it will go away won't make it go away. You may find tomorrow that she may ask you about it, or alternatively you can approach her yourself and apologise. Don't mention what it's for. If she asks, just state that you didn't mean to send it to her and apologise again. You don't have to answer the why, just divert the question :)

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    Thank you, Jane! My first reaction was to email her and ask her to kindly disregard. Then I began an internet search and started to second guess myself fearing my follow up email would bring more attention to the matter. Glad to have your input. – Kaye Jun 30 '15 at 4:03
  • You're welcome :) I think having it there unexplained would be worse than just tackling it head on but I'm a "tackle things head on" kind of girl :) Question: Is the person in your direct report hierarchy or just "someone you work with"? Would they respect your confidentiality? – Jane S Jun 30 '15 at 4:05
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    She is a peer...but higher on the organizational chart. She isn't in my direct report hierarchy. I have a good rapport with her and she seems like a mature professional but as I've obsessed the last couple of hours, I haven't really been able to decide if she would respect my confidentiality or not. I would like to think so but I just don't feel certain. – Kaye Jun 30 '15 at 5:18
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    At this stage all you can do is all you can do :) There doesn't appear to be any reason for her to mention anything. Good luck! :) – Jane S Jun 30 '15 at 5:31
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    UPDATE: I emailed her apologizing and asking her to disregard. She replied, "No worries...I will delete." I have every indication to believe she's been discrete in keeping the email content private. Thanks so much for the advice. – Kaye Jul 15 '15 at 5:46

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