You're Fired! What a High-Profile Termination Means to a Career and Tips for Rebounding from Controversy

You're Fired! What a High-Profile Termination Means to a Career and Tips for Rebounding from Controversy

Executive recruiters say a public firing such as Microsoft's ex-CIO Stuart Scott endured can seriously injure a career but doesn't have to end one.

The Damage a Public Firing Can Do If You're Not Careful

Companies have good reason not to go near an executive who's been through a high-profile termination. For one, they don't want to attract negative attention to themselves by bringing on someone whose reputation has been tarnished by a high-profile ouster -- even if the executive did nothing wrong or simply played the fall guy in an internal political battle. They don't want to have to explain to business partners, customers and the media why they hired someone whose credibility has been called into question by a public ousting.

What's more, hiring such an executive is a risk, says Sam Gordon, an executive recruiter with Harvey Nash. If the executive gets fired again or caught up in scandal, the company and individual who hired him will be implicated in the controversy. Watchdogs will point their fingers at the company and CEO and say they should have known better. "It's a very brave CEO who hires a CIO who has been through a public firing," says Gordon. "This is corporate America: People [doing the hiring] want to protect their positions and mange their careers."

Another reason why companies stay away from candidates who've been publicly fired, says Gordon, is because the stigma may hamper those individuals' effectiveness on the job. Even a small amount of bad press can damage someone's reputation, he says. It makes starting a new job that much more difficult.

"They're going to find it much harder to win the trust of the business," says Gordon. "Establishing credibility with the business is any CIO's biggest challenge coming into a new job. Having been very publicly fired magnifies the challenge tenfold."

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