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4 Reasons to Protect Your Professional Reputation

4 Reasons to Protect Your Professional Reputation

I’ve seen so many influencers on social media encourage workers in difficult situations to quit their jobs without giving notice to their employers. After all, they say, the company wouldn’t give workers notice if they planned on firing them. Your mental health is more important than the job, they say.  

However, what influencers say on social media and in other online content to drive clicks doesn’t match the real world. A positive reputation matters. Here’s one of many real-world examples. Recently, I had a candidate show up for a job interview, and when he met my client’s team in person, he was surprised to recognize the individual who would become his supervisor if he were hired. They briefly worked together in a previous role.  

At the previous company, my candidate had given his notice right as this new hiring manager joined the company. At that time, he gave the now potential supervisor a view of how he conducted himself during his notice period. Apparently, the candidate was professional and diligent throughout his remaining days of employment there. Now, his respectable exit was fast-tracking his interview with the same colleague at a different company in a different city. His past actions paid off in a positive way.  

No matter what the click-bait advice may be, there are several key reasons why you must protect your professional reputation and relationships at all costs.

1. You never know when you might work with or for a former colleague

A few years back, I started a new role and discovered one of the team members I was supervising had worked for me earlier in our careers. Even though we had both transitioned into different industries since then, we had a great working relationship the first time around and she left on the best of terms. While you may think you won’t encounter certain colleagues again, this is far from certain. Do all you can to find the good in managers and co-workers and work to build trust in your professional relationships, no matter how hard it may seem at the time.  

2. Backdoor reference checks are real

Not long ago, I found a great candidate for a role and submitted their name and bona fides to a client for consideration. The hiring manager was very connected to the relevant business community and called a few people who had worked with my candidate to get more insights. He did this before deciding whether to grant an interview, and based on feedback, he declined the interview. We can debate whether these types of word-of-mouth reference checks are appropriate, but the reality is – they happen. Most hiring managers and business owners are well connected in their respective industries. They likely know people you’ve worked with who may not be on your list of references. Keep in mind that how colleagues remember you could help or torpedo your future job prospects. In this regard, anyone you work with or for is a potential stakeholder in your future!

3. Companies change hands – and personnel records go with them

Years ago, I worked back-to-back for two competitors within the same industry. Over time, they became one company. Acquisitions and mergers are common in the business world, and when companies merge, so do employment records. Although you may not go back to the same employer ever again, you never know who will ultimately own your employment records.  

4. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) never forget

Recently, one of my recruiter colleagues received a series of belligerent and disrespectful texts from a job candidate. Now, in our hyper-digital age, those texts are permanently associated with this candidate and visible to our entire nationwide network of talent recruiters. Any recruiter in our firm, current or future, who comes across this candidate will see these unprofessional missives – and there’s a pretty good chance that no one will ever work with him. Although recruiters and hiring managers may come and go, again, the records remain.  

Take the high road to your ideal job  

No matter how toxic the situation is in your current job, no matter how horrible your manager may be, and no matter how frustrated or angry you may become in your professional life, remember the importance of a strong reputation.  

This goes for leaving a company on good terms, refraining from leaving unsavory online reviews or making offline negative comments, and anything else that could harm your personal brand or the company’s reputation. Your reputation matters, and your future self will thank you for maintaining a positive and professional demeanor.  

One thing that click-driving influencers and I can agree on is that your mental health is more important than the job. But remember that neither mental health nor a good reputation result from burning bridges. There are many ways to transcend difficult situations, and one of them is to explore new opportunities with employers that have great cultures where professionals thrive and grow.  

Be proactive! If you’re in an uncomfortable or untenable job, check into the Goodwin Recruiting job board for current opportunities or get in touch with me. Let’s get your career moving to the next level.