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WARNING: This is definitely a long message - everything I included is relevant so please don't flame/attack me if you think it's too detailed. EDIT (4/29) None of the answers to this point are remotely helpful and the comments about the message being too wordy -- I warned you that it was complicated -- maybe you can get away with not needing to pay attention to details in your day jobs, but this was a serious request for help. I strongly suspect many of you will experience what I did except for the part that you deserved it and you shouldn't be given a chance to redeem yourself. Sheesh!

A couple of months ago I connected with a person on LinkedIn that worked at a company that I was fired from a few years before he joined. We sent a few messages back and forth via e-Mail and learned that he was planning to hire someone to work for him once his company got its next round of funding which would be "real soon". I convinced him to meet with me so that I could be on his "short list" when the opportunity became available.

Long story short (or should I say short story long), the meeting went well. In fact, we discussed numbers and amazingly enough he didn't flinch when I offered my rate. At the end of the meeting, he told me he was going to go on vacation, but would get back to me the following week with a proposal.

We parted ways and I waited to hear from him. He didn't reach out, so I sent him a couple of other messages to follow up. At first, he offered to introduce me to a number of others at his previous company (which was fine with me as well - my goal more than anything was to re-enter this field since I haven't worked in it for quite some time) which he gladly did. At that point, I had to wait again because the guy had to go on a few business trips once he got back (which he didn't tell me about previously). Clearly I wasn't happy about that, but I said that was fine. Along the way he contacted me to tell him that one of the companies he was meeting with was looking to hire someone, but from a title perspective it was a non-starter. I politely declined and asked him if he could introduce me to others in his network which he agreed to.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later, I sent him an e-Mail with the names of some people that he had in his LI network that I knew were actively hiring. At that point, he wrote back and said that he had to "be honest with me" -- he already had another person in mind and that he wanted to wait and see if he would take it. If he didn't, then he would conduct a full search and consider me as one of the candidates at that point. This was clearly a disappointing development -- I went from his short list to being potentially considered if his "favored option" decided to pass.

Once again, I swallowed my pride and said that was fine but would appreciate intros to his network which he agreed to. At that point, his tone changed. In a follow-up e-Mail, he said that he "really needed to be honest with me". Long story short, he talked to a few people that we both knew (wouldn't say who) and asked each of them about me as well as a recruiter. Long story short, every single person he asked told him that they wouldn't recommend hiring me for a full time role. At that point, he said he might be able to offer some project based work, but that's the best he could do.

At this point, I lost it. I always knew that my reputation was far from flawless, but I didn't realize that some people were so vindictive that they would still try to prevent me from getting a job, in one case nearly 20 years later (?!) I wrote back to him coming clean as well and wanted to explain how I got to where I am today. Long story short, I have always done a good job, but due to office politics, I often got ensnared into no-win situations and would like to tell him what happened at each of these companies and let him decide if I deserved to be treated this way. Amazingly enough, he said he was willing to listen so we scheduled a date to meet at his office.

I went to the office and sat with him for an hour recalling how I started in this field based on a broken promise by an incompetent manager that had reputation problems of his own and tried to recover three times -- each time failing to do so in gory detail. He then reminded me about the recruiter at which point I flatly told him that recruiters have notoriously thin skins and poor people skills of their own so I wouldn't pay attention to what she said. At that point, he admitted that he didn't know what was going on and that nothing I did warranted the disdain from the people who he spoke with and reverted to his previous story -- he already had someone in mind for the role that I was hoping for, but also said that he'd give me a chance. I eagerly accepted because at least it could give me a chance to re-enter a field where my reputation was damaged unfairly.

Fast forward to last week. I started to work with him at which point he gave me a few small-ish projects to work on and started to make progress on them. We "met" a few times, once in person where I met his colleagues which was a good thing. He definitely seems comfortable with me helping him out, but I really don't want to disappoint him and ideally be either hired by him full time or at the very least, leverage him for intros to others and explain that I deserved a chance.

Sorry for the insanely long note - my question is what do I do to ensure that I am successful with this guy? He seems like he has already chalked up what happened to me as being a victim of some very nasty politics from people who abused their authority, but you never know for sure.

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    @Lilienthal I think at some point it just became "long story long". – Reinstate Monica Apr 28 '17 at 8:00
  • The recent edit made by @Midas makes this wall of text more usable. – Neo Apr 28 '17 at 10:50
  • I think that all of you should try to answer the question instead of wasting time complaining why it's too long. If anything it ignores key details which makes the "obvious" answer the wrong one. – Tim Woods Apr 28 '17 at 23:00
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    the OP needs to realise that at least a large (if not majority) part of OPs history is due to the OP, and should own it. Reflect on what happened, and find five things that were absolutely OPs fault. New ones, not ones OP is currently aware of. Don't do those five things again, that should help. OP is delusional in believing that everything was everyone else's fault - willing to bet that it is this quality that caused much of the problems OP alludes to. – bharal Apr 29 '17 at 21:34
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    I'm not sure this question is any more opinion based than broadly similar questions about repairing a damaged reputation . – Mel Reams Apr 29 '17 at 23:49
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You've got your foot in the door, that's the hard part. From here I would make sure the work you are given is impeccable. You've got to build a stable of good references to offset the bad ones.

As an aside, a lot of this reads as my problems are everyone else's fault. Most of the time, when it comes to conflicts like the ones you describe, the truth is going to fall in between both parties opinions. I would take a minute to do some self reflection and make sure that your mindset is where it needs to be to continue to grow as a valuable resource.

EDIT to answer the OP's question. You've already been given your shot. It is in your employer's best interest for you to succeed; onboarding/training new people is expensive. And if your employer was setting you up for failure, I can't imagine it's a place you'd want to fight to be at.

If I were you, to ensure I am successful with this person, I would do everything I can to make sure I'm of value to my employer. Otherwise what reason would they have to keep you? That may mean menial tasks/grunt work for a while, but the easier you make their lives, the more they'll come to value you.

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  • Can you be more specific? I think it's a given that I need to do a fantastic job, but how do I actually make I have a fair shot in doing so? – Tim Woods Apr 29 '17 at 21:18
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    Don't get involved in politics. – CKM May 3 '17 at 3:39
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Just do your job the best you can.

You have a chance to redeem your reputation, make use of it. Politics are politics, it is guaranteed that every office will have some sort of intrigue. Don't worry about that. Just focus on what you're doing, avoid taking side, and be professional.

You've been given your (maybe last) chance, don't disappoint him.

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I skimmed a lot of it but as I understand it your situation is that you have a good opportunity but people from your past are making it difficult to secure a position.

You say that the person has offered you some project work, take it. Prove the quality of your work and when you are done ask for more. If you do work for him, do it well, and he keeps wanting to give you more, he'll listen less and less to those other people and more to your experience.

Rebuilding a reputation can be difficult, especially when you have multiple people working against you. It seems you have somebody willing to give you a chance, so take it and run with it. It allows the hiring manager to test you out without making a full commitment. Yes, this takes time, but in the end puts you in a much better bargaining position. Right now if you were to beg for a job, and even if he could convince others in the organization to hire you on, you would be under a very uncomfortable microscope for quite some time. Taking some project based work removes that microscope for you, and the overall risk for them.

I would take the work, but I would take it based on the going rate of an independent contractor with the same skills. You want to make yourself look like a bargain if hired, and if not, get paid well for your work.

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