2

I left my previous job three weeks ago. When I handed my two-weeks notice, my then boss asked me where I was headed and what was the reason for me leaving the company. I wasn't a hundred percent honest in my answer. I didn't have another job lined up, but I said that the reason is because I'd like to experiment with some other things on a different project for now etc.

However, one week ago I received an offer (which I accepted) from a company renowned by it's healthy culture where I will be in the same role as before. The tools we will be using are more current and are something I haven't worked much with. Because of that I felt lucky and really happy about how fast this job came my way.

The issue is, my ex-boss connected with me on LinkedIn and she will notice when I update my job position to the new role. She was a bit of a micromanager and would check on my progress every 30 minutes when I was working for her, while not fully acknowledging the contribution I had on the company (she was the same with other employees as well). This plus some other ethical issues were the real reason I left the company. This is something that I try not to discuss with my current employer because I think blackmouthing is bad for both parties.

My question is, and maybe I'm just being paranoid here but, can my former boss contact my current employer out of spite and influence their opinion about me?

PS. I'm not legally connected to my past company in any way anymore.

  • 7
    What value, if any, do you get from keeping this LinkedIn connection with your former boss? – Dan Pichelman Apr 4 '18 at 18:14
  • 6
    Why not disconnect with her on LinkedIn? – Sandra K Apr 4 '18 at 18:20
  • 1
    @DanPichelman What would the OP hope to gain by deleting the connection? The prior boss will find out where the OP went if she really wants to - through a mutual connection, googling the person's name, asking around, etc. That said I think it's a moot point in the bigger picture and IME it's best to not burn bridges, even with people who you had a hard relationship with. – dwizum Apr 4 '18 at 18:21
  • 1
    LinkedIn isn't Facebook... I've noticed amongst my LinkedIn contacts that some of them wouldn't get around to updating their current employment for months after moving to a new job. Perhaps you could wait a little while until you're more secure in your new position before updating yours. – brhans Apr 4 '18 at 19:42
  • 1
    Linkedin does have an option to not notify people when you make a change to your profile. She might still notice is she manually goes and checks your profile, but is that something you really think she'd do? The way you describe her, I'd expect she'd have her hands full with her current employees – Steve-O Apr 4 '18 at 20:52
11

This is a bit of a difficult question to answer:

can my former boss contact my current employer out of spite and influence their opinion about me?

Can she? Surely, she can try to do that. It raises some related questions:

Is it likely that she will try? We can't really answer that specifically, since we don't really know her. I think it's pretty safe to state that this would be really odd and highly unusual behavior and not something anyone would expect a former boss to do, no matter how much they didn't like you. But let's just assume she tries, in order to play this out for you and help you think through it.

If she does try, will she actually get ahold of your new boss? Organizations don't generally publish their org chart. Does she know your boss's name? Probably not. Phone-answering receptionists at the front desk won't generally direct a call that doesn't have a clear purpose or a specific named person in mind. "Can you tell me who So-and-so reports to?" will almost certainly not receive an answer from the receptionist - or at best might be directed to HR, who definitely won't give an answer. Even a generic attempt at "let me talk to the CEO!" will likely be well screened, and denied once they determine her nefarious intent.

But let's just handwave and brush that all aside, and assume the worst:

If she actually gets ahold of someone in a position of power and tells them bad things about you, what will happen? I see two potential outcomes:

  1. The person they speak to will realize how completely ridiculous the prior boss's actions are, and will dismiss her claims. You've lost nothing here, and maybe some day it'll make for a good tale around the office about how your crazy ex-boss tried to pull a fast one.
  2. The person they speak to will believe her, and will treat you worse as a result. You're eventually fired, or treated poorly and leave on your own. Take this as a bullet dodged: you probably don't want to be working for someone who would actually listen to the rants of a random ex-boss.

To put things in perspective, assuming you haven't committed some major atrocity at your past employer, there's really nothing to worry about. This new employer clearly likes you - they've gone as far as hiring you! Even if, on the off chance, your old boss reaches out, its highly likely her words will fall on deaf ears and you will not experience any negative outcome.

As an unrelated side note to address the concept of de-connecting with this person on LinkedIn. I don't think that makes sense. If the prior boss really is crazy and determined to find out where you went, she'll find a way to find out. Secondly, keeping her in your LinkedIn network may actually play out in your favor. Maybe at some point in the future you'll realize she's not as terrible as you thought, and you may have a reason to be in touch with her about something.

Or, maybe SHE will eventually move to a new position somewhere else: if you remain connected to her on LinkedIn, you can keep tabs on her and you'll know to avoid her if/when she does eventually move somewhere else. (I mention that because I once considered applying for a job at a new employer, but I checked my LinkedIn connections first and realized a prior coworker I really struggled with had ended up there - knowing he was there helped me decide not to apply there myself.

  • 3
    I think it's worth expanding on your point of "if she gets ahold of someone". If the company is larger, when she calls she'll likely get the front desk. The front desk might be able to transfer her to someone by name, but that would also require her somehow determining the name of your boss. The front desk won't respond to someone asking to talk to IsaaK08's boss. – David K Apr 4 '18 at 18:35
  • 2
    Good point, I added that in. I guess the clear message here should be: this ain't gonna happen. And even if it does, it's not a big deal. And if it is, you're better off. So no matter what, don't worry. – dwizum Apr 4 '18 at 18:48
  • 1
    Also added the last two paragraphs to address the suggestion of de-friending her on LinkedIn. – dwizum Apr 4 '18 at 18:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.