I'm on my way out of a long stretch working for a small company. While there, I designed most of their popular products. My name is on those products.

Unfortunately, that company has earned themselves a terrible reputation related to the sales and customer service around the products I've created, but not the products themselves. If you Google my name or the products I designed, that company shows up near the top of the list.

To make matters much more complicated, the company is owned by someone with the same name as me.

What should I be doing to protect my own reputation from this mess?

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    So, are you worried on how this might affect your chances with your new job, or future jobs?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 23:53
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    A doubt a companies reputation would hurt an individual. Unless you are one of the management staff. A confusion in name would be very easy to explain and would help you make small talk. Just make sure not to crap on the company. Focus on what you do/did. Not the company you worked for.
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 23:56
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    @DarkCygnus, I'm concerned about how this might affect job searching at any point. When a prospective employer looks up my name, I'd like them to not toss my resume out before we get a chance to talk.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 23:57
  • @Shadowzee, my concern is that my resume would get thrown out before I get a chance to talk to anyone.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 23:59
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    @DavidK, the bad reputation is related to the sales and customer service around the products I've created, but not the products themselves. Unfortunately, people keep assuming that I'm the one in charge of the company.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 19:12

4 Answers 4


Generally I don't think most hiring managers will conflate the awful repuatation of any given company with a particular emnployee - unless that employee is the well-known "face" of the company or has been publically singled out in whatever led to the poor reputation (say Nick Leeson for example). Personally if I think of it at all when reviewing the candidate I'd be thinking "I can understand why they want out!"

So I don't think it's that big a problem - for a supporting anecdote from the candidate's side I once worked for a company with a company with a truly awful reputation (there were actual hate blogs set up about them!) and it was even raided by the police - a raid that was extensively covered in the regional news media! My name was also linked to this company in the local news as there had been coverage around when myself and some other significant hires were made. That was a few years back and as far as I can tell it's not once been a problem in my future job hunts.

The fact that you share a name with the owner of Terrible Inc. is potentially the biggest problem here - since people might google your name and confuse the two.

That said I still don't think it's the end of the world - your CV should make it absolutely clear that your position at Terrible Inc wasn't the owner.

  • My case is nothing so serious, but imagine that I'm some other guy, also named Nick Leeson, working at the same company as the more famous one.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 22:29

I'm going to address the problem of sharing the name with the company's owner, as motosubatsu's answer addresses the issue of the company's reputation fairly well.

One option is to slightly change your name to distinguish yourself from the owner - add a middle name or initial, or maybe you use a nickname you'd be happy to go by. So instead of just being "Joseph Schmo", you would be "Joseph P. Schmo", or "Joseph Percival Schmo", or "Joey Schmo", or maybe even "J. Percival Schmo". The trick is to change this consistently everywhere you have control over - resume, cover letter, personal website, LinkedIn, even social media. You want to create a consistent digital identity that is clearly linked and separate from the owner. You won't have control over everything that's out there, but as long as you can get interviewers to pause long enough to verify your position, then you've succeeded.

To be more direct about it, you might make a side comment in your cover letter. St some point in your letter you will mention your current company, at which point you mention the owner.

During my time at Acme Corp (whose owner I happen to share a name, though no relation), I worked on ...

And then continue on to talk about what you did there. You never want to talk badly about a (soon-to-be) former employer, but instead focus on your experiences and contributions that will be beneficial in the new job.


In your future job applications, your cover letter is the best place to explain the situation. Cover letters are for anything that you feel the recruiter and hiring manager need to know about your application - explaining this past situation would be fine to include if you feel it's important the issue is understood from your perspective.

A reasonable hiring manager is going to be able to discern good work from the overall reputation of the company. I would have a positive reaction to a candidate telling me they left a company because they disagreed with how their creations were being used.

If you're working as a freelancer, contractor, or in a way where your public reputation is very important, you might consider including an explanation of the situation as part of your profile with any work-search services and in any proposals you provide to potential clients.

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    While I don't exactly agree with jumping into the defense right on the cover letter stage, I don't get the downvotes in this answer either.
    – lucasgcb
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:26
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    I don't think this is good advice. If I were the hiring manager and I would see that as my first introduction to a new candidate, I'd very likely move on to the next resume. Too much baggage.
    – onnoweb
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:41

I would still in a heartbeat buy games made or endorsed by John Carmak even if Occulus VR is shady and selling vaporware. We can't always influence what our employers choose to do with our work.

Might consider setting up your own company if you worry no one would hire. Keep making great games and people shouldn't care about the inherent scandals.

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