Should You Bad Mouth Your Old Job?

JObsMariah Carey recently revealed that working on American Idol was the ?worst experience.? If you recall, American Idol hired Carey to serve as one of the talent show?s judges for Season 12. And she was paid a pretty penny. So Carey?s recently dishing of her former boss begs the question, ?Is there any case when you should talk bad about an old job?? asked a round table of experts for their opinion.

?There’s really no case in which it’s ever a good idea to speak badly about your previous job, boss, or coworkers. Doing so will only make you look bad no matter how honest–or justified–your criticism. After all, if you’re quick to badmouth your previous employer, who’s to say you won’t badmouth your next one?,? says Stacey Sykes, co-owner of boutique resume and career consulting agency Sweet Resumes.

You can spin it, says media and public relations coach Michele Payer, principal of MPC–Michelle Payer Communications. ?Same rules apply in media training. Keep the message positive. Say it without bashing a company or boss, i.e. ?Over time, I discovered that our core values and business ethics were incompatible, so I decided to make a change to a company that shared my philosophies,?? she says.

Most times, nothing good comes from talking bad. ?You will be seen as someone who does not show discretion. It tells them that if you speak badly about your last company, you will speak badly about them. You will be seen as a unprofessional and as person who holds grudges,? notes executive coach and co-author of Mean Girls at Work, Working with You Is Killing Me, and Working for You Isn’t Working for Me by Kathi Elster of K Squared Enterprises.? And word, surprisingly, gets around. ?These comments always get back to the people you actually liked at that organization. Their feelings will be hurt–and that bridge will be gone,? Marilyn Santiesteban, assistant director, Career Services at Bush School of Government & Public Service, points out.

Business coach Maxine Attong, author of Lead Your Team to Win, agrees. ?This is a small world, after all, and no one is certain of the relationships that are in place. The speaker should be mindful of whom is in her audience before sounding off,? she says. ?Bad-talking often gives a one-sided view of the situation and the speaker may be seen as not having all the information or not being a strategic thinker.? Some of the obvious questions that come to mind when a client is bad-talking his/her company are: What part did you play in the organization? What made you stay? What did you do to change it??

Still, there might come a time, especially during an interview, when one could be asked for an honest assessment of one’s former company. You might want to hold back on your blunt opinion and, instead ,be diplomatic. ?Normally, it is best not to be completely honest in this situation because it will make you appear vindictive. If you want to mention some of the negative aspects, frame them in a constructive way, for example, by stating that the company culture wasn’t a good fit for you and stating how you would like your new opportunity to be better,? says Ben Brearley, consultant and career blogger at ?ucareerstrategy .com. ?You can also talk about processes and structures within your previous company that weren’t conducive to a good work environment and challenges within the industry which made it less than enjoyable. But under no circumstances should you speak badly of individuals within the previous company.?

You don?t have to lie. ?Give positive but specific comments: ?I would have gone in another direction with the product line, but they were a nice bunch to work with and management was very responsive,? says Santiesteban. ?Now you can talk about the product line–not the company. Or ?they’ve had a lot of churn at the executive level but their product suite and development team are strong.? Why has there been so much churn? ?I think it’s been a question of getting the right talent/fit to a rapidly evolving game plan.? Use neutral language, specific areas – nothing that will hurt you if repeated.?