Tag Archives: Burning Bridges

The Irreparable Reference

We’ve written previously about how your social profile on the web can affect your job prospects, but surely an employer would never go viral with negative information about your performance (or lack thereof), right? Wrong!

I came across this story last week and was both amused and shocked at the same time. It details the blog post of Heather LeFevre, an Amsterdam-based ad agency planner who, after a new hire (Sam Ismail) turned out to be a con man with a marked inability to actually show up for work, blogged to the world about his lame excuses, his pattern of deception, and her desire to “remove a cancer from adland.” Though she called him “exceptionally bright and charismatic,” LeFevre also added a slide show to document all of Ismail’s deceit, theft, and false identities she had subsequently discovered. The goal of her post, LeFevre noted, was to prevent anyone else in advertising from being used or deceived by Ismail.

While Ismail might be able to pursue some legal action (LeFevre has since removed her original post), one thing is certainly clear: his career in advertising is most likely over. LeFevre might have been charmed enough by Ismail that she didn’t bother to check him out via Google, but future employers likely won’t be, especially if they simply check a reference. Ismail did post a response but it was probably too little, too late. Barring an identity change, background scrubbing, plastic surgery, an SEO campaign, and maybe even entrance into the Witness Relocation Program, Ismail will almost certainly have to find a new career.

Granted, this is an extreme case and, barring bad behavior up to and including murder on the job, a poor reference on your previous job performance probably won’t wind up on the Internet. That said, regardless of how you left (or will be leaving) your job, be mindful that in the digital age, as this example shows, everyone can have a voice, an outlet, and an audience. And when they go public with what they know, it can be on World Wide Web for everyone to see! Be careful not to burn your bridges and make sure you keep control of how everyone sees you in your job market!

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