Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Dear Bonnie

Dear Bonnie,

One of my old design school classmates, with whom I collaborated on multiple academic and freelance projects, recently applied for a job with a designer that I know well and admire a great deal. This classmate worked hard in school, but was also pretty dishonest and even unethical at times. 

Do you think I should warn the designer about my classmate? Or should I hold my peace and hope that he’s changed in the past few months?

Baffled in Buffalo

Dear B.,

I appreciate your dilemma and I feel that you must warn your designer friend. You should tell her exactly what you wrote here: that you know the applicant fairly well and he worked hard, but that he also exhibited questionable ethical judgement (much nicer than saying that they cheated and lied). The most important thing to add is that this was a number of months ago and, of course, it's possible that they've adopted a different ethos for their professional life than they had for their academic life. Unfortunately, leopards rarely change their spots. But you never know. Maybe your friend can ask the applicant some pointed questions or mention her disdain for lying and cheating of any kind and see if he starts to sweat. Or, your friend may decide against hiring this guy outright because he behaved badly in the past. If that happens, it will not be your fault. It will be his and his alone. 

It’s a good lesson for all of us to remember that when you behave badly, it will follow you around. Fortunately this works exactly the same way when you are kind and generous and good.

And, lest we forget, bosses, this works the other way too. When you treat employees unfairly, take all the credit for the work, or are generally cheap and/or mean, word gets out. Employees love to talk about us and, as we learned in high school, it is very difficult to change a bad reputation.

We want to hear from you! Send your questions for Bonnie to [email protected]     

Posted in: Business, Dear Bonnie

Comments [2]

This is an interresting dilemma. So how did you figure things out if I may ask?
Mick Adams

Great story!
Diana Nelson

Jobs | July 21