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After changing jobs, and after a fairly short period of time (6 months), I've posted something about my previous job. To put you in situation:

I was working on a third party web development company, so we had different clients every week, with different projects and needs. I left that job in a powerful situation: I was the most experienced developer when I quit and more than half of the current (at least at that time) active websites were done by me, so I was the best one to make any change.

Basically, I left because, despite being hired (and paid) for 40 hours a week, I was doing more than 60 on a weekly basis, and sometimes working until past 2 am. Also, he retained us some month salaries because his clients didn't pay. This situation burned me out a lot, so I left the company but we ended well and cordially. In fact, my boss offered me another position if I wanted to come back, and promised me things would change.

After some time, I decided to make a post about why Agile methodologies are nearly impossible in third party companies, probably because of the clients and the nature of the company itself. I posted it on LinkedIn, and I saw that actually my previous boss saw this. He didn't mention anything about it, and I didn't refer to the company name or make a public blame to his company, but to third parties in general and their limitations in agile methodologies. However, did I do the right thing, or should I have not posted that?

  • "After a few time, I've decided to share my experiences being in an outsourced company and trying to apply some methodologies, finding it impossible due to the clients, but also to the nature of the company itself (being a third party, I mean)" I can't make any sense of what you're saying. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 28 '14 at 10:26
  • Basically, my linkedin post talks about how hard is to apply agile methodologies in general (and scrum in particular) to outsourced companies. But I tried to be generic for others to understand. I see my point was unfruitful – Korcholis Jul 28 '14 at 13:17
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Legal issues

Talking too much about the internals of the company may get you into serious trouble. The contract you signed when you were hired may specify that under no circumstances, you won't publish anything you learnt about the way things are done in this company, things that an outsider has no way to learn otherwise.

The clause is usually done in a form of a NDA and while its purpose is to prevent the publicity about the good things, such as an innovative way of performing a given task, in court, this clause may also be used against people who are publicly explaining how bad the company is.

This alone should make you think twice before saying anything about your previous employer. If this is not enough, here are some other points to consider.

Future employers won't like you

Imagine you are looking for a job. You found a great company and you contact them. Before the interview, they search for information about you on the internet, and find your LinkedIn post which is nothing else than a rant about your previous employer.

Would it be indicative for them that you might be willing to write another LinkedIn article about them if they hire you? They probably don't want this sort of publicity, and the easiest way for them to prevent it would be to avoid contacting you.

Maybe you tried dozens of things internally to solve the problem before writing the article. A potential employer doesn't know that.

Employers do know each other

Imagine, again, that you are looking for a job and contacted a company. A person from this company looks at your CV and calls your ex-employer to ask if you're a great employee.

What would be the effect when the ex-employer will tell that you're not great, and that you spend your time badmouthing? He also has proof: your LinkedIn article.

At least don't quote the names

If you still want to publish an article, at least do it in a way which makes it difficult to associate with your ex-employer. Instead of writing:

When I worked on Microsoft Office 2013 at Redmond, [...]

write:

Once, I had to contribute to a huge project in a large company; despite the fact that the project was essential for this company, it looked like nobody cared about the [...]

It doesn't necessarily mean that the readers cannot figure out what is the company (putting your CV side by side, it may become obvious), but it requires effort, and the fact that you don't name the company in the article makes it more like “I'm telling you an interesting story” and less like “This company sucks”.

Putting it in a way that your previous employer won't find can also be beneficial. For example, if you know that your boss was reading your blog from time to time, put it somewhere else. If you know that your blog was never visited from any IP which belongs to your company, put it on your blog, rather than on your LinkedIn profile.

Practical example

I spent a year working in a company which is... not made for developers. The fact that with more than 7 years experience in C# and a profile of a developer, project manager and designer, I had to work as a code monkey all day, teamed with people who do whatever it takes to make things as bad as possible was so depressing that I just had to write about it. And so I did.

While doing it, I was aware that:

  • Nobody in this French company reads my blog, simply because those people don't read anything written in English.

  • None of the articles contains the name of the company. I'm not ranting about a specific company: instead, I just share my experience (in a form of a rant, but still). The name of the company is irrelevant: what is relevant is the problem I encountered, and eventually what I tried and what were the consequences.

  • A meticulous recruiter who will read my blog and search for information about me will easily find that if I doesn't agree with the way things are done within a company, I'll first try to improve those things by talking to people from this company. By searching through blog posts and other resources, there is a way to find that I actually spoke to my colleagues, to my manager, to the lead manager, to assistant director and to the CEO.

Another example: stories from my freelancing never mention the name of the customer, and are written in a way that it is impossible to find the actual name. Confidentiality here is key: saying bad things publicly about a customer would be particularly unprofessional, if not punishable by law.

  • Luckily, and as I told, I don't mention my previous company and, in fact, refer to third parties in general (and especially their direct clients) as how I see them. However, your tricks on how to talk about this are fantastic. I didn't mention any "secret" from the company, nor any name related to it, even if I didn't sign for an NDA. I'll be more conscious from now on about this kind of posts I send to Linkedin. Thanks! – Korcholis Jul 28 '14 at 13:40
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    "I didn't mention any "secret" from the company": luckily for you. Note that telling something like "this company sucks because they don't use automated testing" would be revealing a secret, since an outsider (such as a potential customer) is not supposed to know that. – Arseni Mourzenko Jul 28 '14 at 13:56
  • @Korcholis do you have work history posted on LinkedIn? – bdimag Jul 28 '14 at 17:38
  • @bdimag I do, but as MainMa pointed out, anyone pairing it with my CV will notice. I think I'll just remove the post somehow... too much trouble – Korcholis Jul 29 '14 at 8:06
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If you've got something to say, say it. Good companies listen to constructive criticisms and improve upon them.

If people aren't allowed to talk about their previous jobs, there would be no autobiographies like Carly Fiorina's Tough Choices written. To specifically name the companies and talk bad about them is risky, but not all is lost; in Steve Yegge's case, he still kept his job after his ranting has gone public. You aren't doing it as boldly, and your post, with due respect, probably isn't going to garner the same level of publicity, so I think you shouldn't doubt yourself too much.

I have seen world-class guru post an unfair contract of some kind of a certain well-known company online, but that didn't make me view him negatively at all. In fact, I thank him for disclosing the ugly reality of corporate capitalism.

Weigh in the risks and benefits. You could always keep your head down and keep your nose clean. But in doing so, you cut off communication of any insight you have obtained from the experience.

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