Reputation after leaving a not so good company

This is tough to articulate, I am curious if anyone can share experiences they have with professional relationships after they leave a company that

has some poor business practices?

An example being; I work for a product manufacturer, and because my company is having issues, I am directed to mislead a manufacturing

partner about information pertaining to our project. My concern is, will my relationship with potential future manufacturing partners be harmed

by my current companies practices? I have built some very reliable contacts and relationships and I don’t want them to blow up if/when any

deception is discovered. Once I leave, how do I tactfully let them know I disagreed with my former companies practices and that I would like to

continue a professional relationship?

Yikes, that’s a rough spot to be in.

Unfortunately at the end of the day, if you act un-ethically, even if coerced or told to by your employer/manager - that falls on you. You chose to act unethically and you can not expect to retain any relationship based on your own actions. It would be one thing if your employer had dishonest practices in other areas of the business but you stayed honest.

Every situation is different, but I would hold yourself accountable. If you are being asked to lie or mislead a customer I would reconsider if harming your long term career prospects is worth what may only be a few months of remaining employment with your current employer.

Your reputation will live long past this current job.

I agree with Cyberdemon.

Good luck explaining to your partners that you were directed to mislead them. You’re the contact, and to them, you’re also now the asshole from ABC company that isn’t to be trusted, particularly if it cost them time and money.

I’ve had experience with a particular sales rep for a reliable company we buy parts from who have done similar. We ended up mistrusting that particular person (i.e. their name), rather than the company itself.

Very true. Have you already mislead them? If so I don’t know how to handle that.

If you haven’t already mislead them, and if it were me I would object to the direction immediately. Sure, you might get fired, but if that’s their response to refusing to carry out unethical direction then is that somewhere you want to be working?

Besides, it’s much easier to explain your termination because you were trying to do the right thing rather than go along with it and risk your reputation, or worse end up in a lawsuit.

Ideally you can resist the direction, but work with them on an ethical solution to the problem that benefits all parties. If you can’t, leave.

Depending on which country or state you live in you might have corporate whistle blower protection, that’s something to consider, maybe ask a lawyer.

I feel for you and this puts you in a difficult spot and not only effects your long term career but also you personal life as you need to live with your actions as well. And it sounds as if it is already causing you some concern.

So here is my story…

Very early on in my career i was working for a company that was in a 2 way company relationship developing a product for a customer. Things became complicated and i never did understand what happened but the company we had partnered with was pulling out of the project. At our location we had many items that belonged to them, tooling, prototypes and things. They where onsite packing everything and checking the inventory list when one of our project managers came to me and asked if i had any of the cad files and drawings on how something worked. I said yes and then he informed me to make an immediate back up of all the data fully knowing that all the data belonged to them.

I looked at him and challenged him and his response was he was just the messenger and the request came from our boss. I sat for a good hour thinking about the ask not to determine what was right or wrong (i already new that it was dishonest) but what the ramifications would be of my actions. I walked to the person doing the inventory and handed her the only copy of the data too which she was appreciative and even stated that they didn’t have that on their list.

Our project manager came back to see if i had backed up the data and i informed him what i had done, his response was “I respect what you did and it is what i should have said to our boss as well” 20 minutes later i was called into my bosses office (this was on a Wednesday) I was berated up and down with yelling and derogatory remarks, i was told that i was a child and i didn’t understand how the business world worked. he then stated that he knew i had a few days off planed (Thursday and Friday) and told me that he wanted to see me Monday morning and to tell him if i was “on board with the program or not”

He did not know that my trip was to fly out for a face to face interview for a company that had reached out to me. which i received a job offer and then in turn i provided him my resignation at our Monday meeting.

Now to be honest when returning the data and being told that i needed to make a decision on the Monday i fully decided that even if i didn’t take the job i was done and would be leaving. ( I was also young with no family to support) The action of evening asking me to do that left me disgusted, keeping in mind that i did offer 3-4 weeks notice to finish off the customers project ( i was truly the only one there capable of doing the work) instead i was escorted off the property with my boss lecturing me. (the customers reaction to this is another interesting story)

Thanks for all the stories and thoughts, I was fairly certain the consensus was I wouldn’t be separated from the company’s practices.
I have not mislead anyone yet, but I feel the request from my boss coming soon. I am looking to leave, but while I am here I will make my boss tell our partners anything I don’t want to pass along.


It sounds like you already know what to do. Unfortunately the level of b.s. varies from company to company. Sad truth is some people are so scared to lose a job or find another one when they have alot at stake (wife, kids, student loans, marginal experience, etc.), they continue to accept unacceptable business practices to the point where it becomes normal. Hopefully you can land in another role which alleviates much of your current stress. Good luck.

I think being honest is always the best policy. Your reputation and your integrity determine your long term career prospects… not to mention being honest is just easier. When you are honest you don’t have to remover anything. I think I might be paraphrasing Mark Fwain there.

If it were me. I’d be honest with your client. Be honest with your boss that you were honest. If they want to fire you for being honest it will reflect poorly on them and be a great interview story. Of course this is easy to say from this side of the computer (or iPhone to be exact). Make sure you have the financial ability to get fired!

Unfortunately there’s some truth to that statement, not that you didn’t understand, but that there’s tons of shady BS that goes on in business.

That is a great story.

Just to add to this, if you get fired for being honest and somebody else won’t hire you because if, chances are they’re shady as well.