How to Resist the Urge to Badmouth an Ex Employer on Social Networking Sites

Whether or not there is bad blood between you and your previous employer, badmouthing an ex-employer in public is career suicide – nothing is more public or more enduring than words printed into the Internet on social networking sites.

Whether it's in real life or on the Internet, badmouthing ex-employers leaves a bitter taste in everyone's mouth and will soon ensure that you're known as a difficult and possibly unemployable person. Resisting the urge may be hard but it's worth it for the sake of your future career!


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    Take a step back and think about what you're wanting to write and send out into the world. Is your anger against your former boss the way you really feel or are you just having a bad day? Even if your less-than-complimentary words are how you feel about this person, is this something you want in permanent, indelible form – the Internet never forgets. No matter what you try to do to hide it, once written and published, it will spring back up again and again. Even if it isn't on the front page, it is in the history somewhere and if necessary, can be dug up to affect your life later.
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    Consider the repercussions. The repercussions are difficult to fathom beyond the initial sense of relief at venting. Beyond that though, word soon gets around and it's likely that your former boss will get wind of it and see the words too. And if your former boss has a good network (most do), they're unlikely to keep quiet about what they think of your lack of decorum and inability to keep quiet about the more negative aspects of your relationship. Your ex boss is still able to affect your life beyond the job simply through talking to other people who might be in a position to form part of your future, and in doing so, your boss has the power to create an unfavorable impression. And in this case, the evidence will be right online for anyone who wishes to confirm what your former boss is claiming.
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    Think about the ways in which dishing the dirt on your boss could affect your future. Today's employers are all Internet savvy – gone is the transition period where only some thought to do online checks and fumbled around in doing so. Today, it is commonplace for human resources and recruitment personnel to check out your online credentials to see whether or not you've created a good image for yourself in cyberspace. Any whiff that you might be badmouthing people you used to work for will definitely cause such people to try to ferret out confirmation.
    • Research your name online and see what returns for it. Your presence on the Internet speaks for itself – what is it saying? It isn't just at the interviews that you can get yourself in trouble these days.
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    Follow the same advice when online as that provided for how to talk about your former employer in interviews. Don't. And if you must say anything, keep it neutral, bland and polite. Venting is something that should remain private always and the reason is not just because your boss will find out about it or even that your future employer might find out about it – such a discovery is bad enough – but the real reason is to do with how your character is perceived. It is hard to trust someone who vents about another person in a public forum because each person who knows that you're capable of this will wonder if you're capable of doing it to them next. And they will also wonder whether you have an ax to grind and are difficult to work with – definitely not something you want future employers thinking!
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    Do something that allows you to vent and then move on. You may feel convinced that there is a cozy little online community waiting to lap up your words and return confirmation that your ex boss is one mean old so-and-so but much of that sympathy and connection with other people in the online sphere is false and out-of-context. These people don't really know you, they definitely didn't know your boss or your work situation and they'll only be offering their advice and support based on generalizations and their own often irrelevant (to you) experiences. That small amount of being made to feel good by a few online passers-by doesn't balance well with your venting being unearthed by the people who matter! If you need to vent, here are some much safer methods:
    • Get onto the computer (not the Internet) and write a letter direct to your boss. You're never going to send this letter but treat it as if your boss is actually going to read it. Let it all out, from the measliest annoyance to the largest gripe, just let it all pour onto the page. Write until you've exhausted the venting and then let it be. You can even print off this letter and burn it, tear it up, toss it to the heavens, whatever makes you feel like you are letting the anger out and setting it free.
    • Talk to someone who is neutral and trustworthy. Don't talk to former workmates – they still have too much invested in their job to really listen compassionately and they might even gossip or go to the ex boss. Talk to a friend, a mentor, a counselor or anyone else you can trust who will be sympathetic and listen. Be sure to listen to them too – this is a learning experience and you may actually learn more about what you contributed to the state of affairs when a neutral party sums it up for you and that is definitely something to learn from.
    • Make an anonymous account and change all the names and places if you have to mention any names. Doing this still carries risks because anything obvious and identifiable that can place you, your ex boss and your workplace will "out" you. A riskier option but possibly better than venting using your real name and everyone else's real names too.
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    Let go for your own sake. Your ex boss may have had two horns and a bubbling cauldron as far as you're concerned but there are two important things to remind yourself. One, that that is your perspective and it may very well not be held by other people, especially if you had a personality clash with your ex boss. The other thing is that by letting go, you free yourself up to stop fighting your former boss long after the job has been left behind. Being haunted by poorly chosen words about your boss online will place a stumbling block in your recovery from the experience, possibly preventing you from moving forward. Instead of pouring your anger out on the Internet, pour your energies into reaching forgiveness, so that you can forgive the antics of your ex boss, remembering that you aren't condoning them but you are allowing yourself to change your perspective about this person. Perhaps some day, you'll even learn to laugh it off and after time, that particular job experience will decrease in intensity.
    • Time doesn't exist for the unconscious self as it does for our conscious mind. If you continue to hold an unforgiving attitude, you will keep reliving the recriminations and make the offenses committed by your ex boss a living reality now, despite it being over. Don't allow this to become your operating mode. Your thoughts influence your body – make your thoughts ones of forgiveness.
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    Take the opportunity to improve yourself. Instead of groaning about this horrible business and how they screwed you over and so on, consider why they might have let you go versus letting someone else go. Think about what you can do to improve yourself and act upon it. There is always something to be learned from a bad job experience and our temptation is always to put a gloss over it that says "them bad, me good". Unfortunately, that avoids the very real possibility that your own contribution to the state of affairs needs analyzing. Fortunately, making yourself face that possibility will enable you to spot your own weaknesses so that you can avoid repeating the pattern in future jobs.
    • As well as finding your own weak spot, find your strengths within the former job too. No recruiter wants to hear you moan about your ex boss, no matter how much it may be deserved. Instead, focus on all the examples where you performed great work in that job and have them all lined up and ready to fire whenever you're doing an interview. Also work on excellent reasons for wanting to leave that job or for explaining your removal from it. By focusing on the good things and the things that propel you into the future, you can sidestep images of your ex boss looming large when you're asked "So, why did you leave your job?".
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    Change all the names and combine the story with other stories. Turning it into fiction with enough changes that no one could identify the individual is a good way to vent without remotely touching your career. One bad boss is very like another, so listen to other people's stories and build a profile of a rotten-boss character. Then write the fiction under a pseudonym. You'll receive plenty of emotional support without anything traceable back to an individual who could hurt your future career. Do not use your real ex-boss's initials when creating the character's name. Consider changing the character's gender, race, locality, anything that's not essential to the story should be changed dramatically. The purpose of the story is to vent, but if you write it well you might even be paid for it by a magazine or website!
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    If you have serious grievances against a former employer, instead of writing about it, search on the company or individual and read. Discover whether these grievances are common to other former employees. Consult an attorney or do some legal research to discover if there are legal remedies for what you had to put up with or an unethical or illegal firing. Weigh the likelihood of winning against the risk of being seen as a whistle blower by new employers. Make the decision calmly instead of in the heat of anger. If you didn't bad-mouth the employer at all throughout your research, that may improve your chance of getting an attorney to help you get a settlement. Once the boss's bad behavior is public, he has no reason to want to buy you off and keep you from being a whistle blower. At any time before that point you might be able to negotiate a settlement. Always leave the opponent a way to retreat.


  • If you have already badmouthed an employer, make sure the content is removed. If this can't be done on the site itself, seek help from a company that specializes in removing data. This won't be easy, cheap or necessarily even possible but it is important to try, especially if you're subject to defamation proceedings.
  • Set your privacy settings appropriately so the content is invisible to people you do not want to see it.


  • Be very careful to avoid writing or saying anything defamatory; this can be used against you in a legal action if an ex employer decides to pursue it.

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