How having an unethical boss can make you look bad, too
And if those people are known for being liars and cheats, the hiring manager may have doubts about bringing you on - even if you had nothing to do with the immoral behavior.That's according to new research from Stanford University, which found that people perceive the unethical behavior of high-status individuals as prototypical of the group as a whole.
Participants were then asked to evaluate a job candidate for a mid-level position. The candidate was supposedly employed at the same company as the person accused of fraud. All participants read a generally positive reference letter for the employee and were then asked whether they would recommend the employee for the position.Results showed that people were much more reluctant to recommend the candidate for the position when the person accused of fraud was a high-ranking exec.
"We found that people made significantly more negative hiring recommendations for this employee after they read that a high-ranking executive, rather than an entry-level employee, from this organization had committed fraud - even though there was no indication that the two had ever worked together or even knew each other," Takuya Sawaoka, one of the study authors, said in a release.
"With the rise of ubiquitous online social networks, rapid news cycles and greater information transparency, details regarding your professional affiliations - organizations and people you've worked with, for example - are only a few clicks away. In addition, revelations about coworkers' ethical lapses spread quickly on the internet gossip mill," Sawaoka said.
If a top leader at your former company has a negative reputation, the authors write that there are ways to reduce the perception that you'll behave unethically as well. For example, you can emphasize to your potential employer that the transgressor's actions were not representative of the whole company.You can also try to downplay the transgressor's status in the organization, so that his or her behavior seems less generalizable to the whole company.
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