Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer had it partially right where Scaramucci got it wrong. Talking bad about your ex-employer will haunt you
The Mooch is at it again.
Still smarting from being fired after 11 controversial days as White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci is now hitting the television talk show circuit. The former Fox Business Network host mildly criticized President Donald Trump’s response to this weekend’s racist rally in Charlottesville and called for the firing for White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on ABC’s “This Week.” Scaramucci then went on the “Late Show” Monday night and repeated criticism of his nemesis to host Stephen Colbert while hitting the White House for its tolerance of white supremacist views.
Scaramucci half-joked to Colbert that he was “the only person that would come from the Trump administration or formerly from the Trump administration to sit here”—and he’s not wrong. While numerous former Golden Boys—and they’ve mostly been men—have fallen out of grace with Trump, the likes of Corey Lewandowski, Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus have generally refrained from anything but gushing praise.
Either way, if faced with questions about your previous employer after an acrimonious departure, career experts advocate being neither sycophant nor critic. “Scaramucci can go get another opportunity elsewhere, but the average Joe must be careful about what he says,” says Howard Fox, a careers coach in Chicago. “It all comes back to haunt you eventually. People will be wondering ‘if they speak this way about their ex-company, how will they ask about us?’”
“It’s like if you have a new girl or boyfriend,” says Debra Benton, co-author of “The Leadership Mind Switch. “You don’t talk negative about the past one.”
But occasionally, job interviewees may be asked by potential employers about the circumstances of their leaving, in which case, proceed with caution. “Not talking negative doesn’t mean you can’t be candid,” says Benton, who suggests telling a balanced story about your past. She recommends simply saying your departure wasn’t due to anyone’s fault, but that you had different perspectives with your ex-boss. Couch it as “both had valid arguments, but one had more power and that wasn’t me,” Benton says. That’s particularly useful for Scaramucci, who was canned by Trump’s recently empowered and newly appointed Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Also read: Sean Spicer just quit. Should you be next?
You should also think twice before blasting your former employer on career review sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Nothing is really anonymous in the age of the internet, says Fox. “People will find out who you are. Your potential employer is going to be out there looking at your social accounts and Googling you.”
There is one partial exception to holding back on criticism and that’s if someone close to you is applying for a position at your former workplace and comes to you for advice. Benton thinks you can be honest, even as you stress that you are only offering your perspective. “You want to note that everybody views things differently and has a different take on things,” says Benton.
Indeed, Fox recalls working in the past with a new supervisor who was known for being particularly difficult. “He said to me ‘Just give me a chance.’ And he was probably one of the best managers I’ve ever had.”
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