Paper Source files for bankruptcy, leaving many small craft businesses in deep trouble
We hear all the time how small the world is and that many industries or career paths are intertwined where “everyone knows everyone”. Some may also have been called incestuous. Many recruiters know a lot of people (it’s their job!) And also need referrals so they can speak with some of your former colleagues if they are seriously considering making you an offer. Have you had any experiences where you worry if a future employer finds out it could ruin your reputation? Worried that no future hiring manager will want you on their team if they hear about some of your mistakes (i.e. learning experiences)?
Here’s a pretty extreme example from this Reddit post:
“My reputation is ruined. What do I do?
I have struggled with a crippling opioid addiction for the past ten years, which has resulted in my being fired from a number of positions that could have led to successful careers. My reputation is completely destroyed and I have no hope of finding another good job. I have since decided to clean myself up, and I am over a month old. But I’m still unemployed, with a bad reputation, and I don’t know what to do. I have a few good references from former bosses who saw my true potential, but also a lot of bad ones. What should I do to rebuild my reputation? In my future job search, should I mention my addiction history or be vague about it? Should I try to go back to school? Should I volunteer? Or should I just give up and accept a miserable dead end job, or just retire? Is there any hope? : ‘(
Edit: Thanks everyone for your advice. I did not expect to receive so much support. I will continue to work to stay sober. You have all helped me stay positive and I really appreciate that. “
First, let’s pay tribute to this person for getting sober (and hoping that they continue to have the support they need to stay on that path – and most importantly, support in the event of a relapse). We are all human and it certainly doesn’t hurt to be reminded of this constantly. There’s a lot of well-deserved attention on Brené Brown right now that highlights the need for vulnerability and to be authentic yourself. His work is research-based and inspiring and uplifting.
Like most things in life, there needs to be a balance in your vulnerability when it comes to the job search. People looking to hire us want to know us, but there are some things they might not need to know right away when evaluating us for a position. Or things they might never need to know. There is a balance in sharing things that are too personal when it comes to your professional activities.
You can expect this article to suggest that this person is being totally honest. Well, it’s not that kind of article. There is a time and place to divulge your deepest secrets, and the interview room may not be one of them.
It is important to be authentic yourself, but you must identify what is your professional authentic self. When we are looking for a job and doing interviews, we do our best and need to be buttoned up and tweaked.
As we grow and learn in our careers, there can be a variety of challenges that we believe can tarnish our reputation (not just limited to the addiction mentioned above):
- Bad relationship with a manager
- Toxic work environment where stress has taken over
- Harassment not addressed by HR
- Financial errors regarding personal or professional budgets
- It just wasn’t the right fit – whatever that means
Here are some thoughts if you, like our Reddit contributor, fear that your reputation will be irreparably damaged:
- Is it time to explore a new industry – where the connections are fresh and they won’t know why you left so many previous positions? If so, you may need to do some career exploration on your transferable skills and how these can take you in a new direction. Or even a new city. The good news is that the doors are opening with remote working in our current situation, so you may be able to find a new pool of contacts or companies that are hiring.
- Would this be a good time to take what you have learned and help others? Is there a certification or volunteer project that would help you help others who have dealt with your problem? It can help you feel redeemed for why you must have had this experience.
- Use LinkedIn to build your network with your advocates or make a simple journal entry that you’ve worked with in the past that has seen your potential. They would be great choices for references.
- Seek a chat with a friend or even a licensed therapist to discuss your situation and forgive yourself. At the end of the day, if you hang on to the guilt and shame, you won’t allow yourself to walk past them and admit that it was full of life lessons. Explore the work of Brené Brown if you need help learning more about guilt and shame. These can be very heavy emotions which are also an innate part of the human being. We don’t need to eradicate these emotions, we need to recognize them, accept them and MANAGE them.
Often we are the ones holding back. It can be helpful to speak with professionals (therapists, recruiters, mentors) to see if the problem is bigger in our head than it really is. And if you need a reminder that we’re all human, here it is. Be kind and gracious to yourself.