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Stephen Viscusi

Stephen Viscusi

Posted: July 22, 2009 04:44 PM

Just Fired or Downsized? Feel Like Getting Revenge on the Boss? It Seems You're Not Alone


Have you been working extra hard during these rough times to show your boss you care? Making up the workload gap left by your former colleagues who've gotten the axe? You end up neglecting your friends and family to keep your job only to be told by a red-faced boss -- whom you may have even considered a friend -- "I hate to do this, but I have to let you go."

Your jaw drops. You think...What? Is this a joke? Me? I'm the only one who's even working around here -- then, flashing through your head come thoughts of your spouse, partner, or family members' reactions. The embarrassment, the shame. Then you think, "Well, it's happening to everyone." "Down-sized," "right-sized," whatever. Yet, unless your company is going out of business, it isn't happening to everyone. Look around as you clear out your desk. People are still working, right?

Then you think back to all the years that you gave to that company. All of your loyalty and devotion. At holiday parties, you thought you were doing everything right. It seems worse still if you liked your boss. However, let's face it, by this time, during a recession, a boss is usually just a necessary evil. The boss takes the brunt of the blame of the people already fired, and we already resent them from the extra work we have to do. So, we usually hate them by now anyway...

I don't know about you, but I think it is human nature just to get mad. Nowadays, people tell me they want revenge.

I'm Stephen Viscusi, the author of Bulletproof Your Job, and the founder of www.BulletproofYourResume.com. In this new mother of all "recessions," I am here to tell you that I'm reconsidering the cliche of "not burning your bridges." I'm beginning to think that old adage went out the window along with Ruth Madoff's Gucci bags. Burn, baby, burn. When we are hit, we are going to hit back. This recession, and this money poured into car companies and finance companies, has unleashed a dog- eat-dog, or maybe even a dog-eat-master mantra.

As the job recession continues and unemployment rises, people are telling me that they want to get revenge for getting fired. Very few of us, during this terrible recession, have the luxury of "pullin'a Palin." That is, quitting a job before getting a new one.

The internet and human resources "hotlines" have made getting revenge easy today. Lately, it seems that bridges are built to be burned. Lose your job, start a blog. Hate your boss, shout it out on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. Fired for the wrong reason, let the world know you've been wronged.

There was a time when it was a no-brainer not to burn bridges. Now, I'm not so sure. Times have changed. Is there is no karma in the workplace anymore? Is it really like Freud told us, that there are "no coincidences in life?" If you wait for the boss to hang him or herself, you'll end up waiting the rest of your life.

Star Jones was one of the first people to employ the "go-public-to-get-back-at-the-former boss" technique. Coincidentally, Star Jones' replacement on the The View, Rosie O'Donnell, was the second person. Star Jones went to Larry King and then the internet to complain about her former employer. Rosie O'Donnell went everywhere, including the internet.

It seems that when you are let go by Barbara Walters and her production company that produces The View, one wants revenge. I'm not so sure that I would have the stomach to think that I'd want to get revenge on Barbara Walters.

A contrasting example is Oprah -- one of the other more visible of women in media. I never hear of her former employers having anything bad to say. Do you think Oprah just has a better "non-disclosure agreement" or do you think she's a better boss? Why don't you email me and let me know what you think?

Lately, I have gotten e-mails from current Harpo employees in Chicago-land who have been asking me for advice on possible relocation to Los Angeles, if they want to stay with Harpo Productions. (Yes, complete strangers do write me for advice from every occupation and every industry). Apparently, in the next 24 months, Harpo is moving many of its employees to Los Angeles.

I tell them, if you want to stay with Oprah, do much like what the "Beverly Hillbillies" did; Move west to them there Hills, Beverly Hills, that is!

Why are employers seeking revenge for getting fired right now? The business climate in this recession has gotten out of hand. I'm sick of it. Everyone is taking advantage of it, all the way up the ladder. No raises, or taking less money, or charging less. So, if you think your boss or company deliberately strung you along to keep you working hard and long, only to fire you, people say "what do you think about firing the boss back?"

How are they getting revenge for getting fired right now? Some people start BLOGS about their former companies, or write on others' blogs about their experience. They get the word out about who the creep is, or the wrongdoings of those companies. Others Tweet about it or make a video, and send it to the local TV station. They reason: they aren't going to find a job so fast today anyway, so why not spend some time getting even?

As a regular columnist, author and frequent TV contributor, on the subject of work, I am gratified that I hear from thousands of people around the world, every week, who write me to say that, yes, even with everyone else around them being fired, those who employ the techniques from my book mostly -- and I repeat, mostly -- keep their jobs.

Revenge on the boss is analogous to being ditched by your boyfriend or girlfriend. You put out; you're a great partner, then one day then say those famous words, "I am just not that into you anymore." Some jilted lovers respond by telling the world that their former love has herpes. These days, for many spurned workers, the same goes for your former employer.

Readers, tell me how you feel. The revenge approach is not for everyone. While baby boomers hold on to the "burning bridge" theory, younger people are reconsidering it. If you are a six-figure earner, or former six-figure earner and are good at what you do, look good, and are now more affordable, you will always land a new job. So if you feel the need to get some revenge, don't be afraid to tell your story, just tell it truthfully. Don't harass, and don't defame or threaten.

When thinking about bridges, remember, with new technology and engineering there may to be new ways to cross over any passage (think Star Trek) in the future. Who knows... that metaphor may soon disappear like your job did!


Stephen Viscusi is the author of Bulletproof Your Job and is the founder and CEO of BulleproofYourResume.com, a custom resume-writing service. He can be reached at Stephen@viscusi.com. Visit www.bulletproofyourresume.com and www.bulletproofyourjob.com. Follow him on Twitter (@workplaceguru) and friend him on Facebook!

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