A public fall from grace is becoming increasingly difficult to recover from. If the conduct is serious enough to make the news or the internet your name and misdemeanour are out there for a long time to come if not forever.

There are many ways to do serious damage to your career:

Being fired

It's not easy to be fired in New Zealand. Employers have to jump through hoops. So if you have been dismissed it can be the end to a good career. Reasons for dismissal include: serious misconduct, repeated misconduct, performance issues, incompatibility, or a serious breakdown in the relationship between you and one or more other individuals in your workplace.


Publicly shaming the organisation

Bringing your employer into disrepute isn't a great move for your career. A few beers or simply spare time and the keyboard warrior can do an awful lot of damage to employers and themselves. Ministry of Social Development employee Tania Dickinson was dismissed after posting self-deprecating comments on her private Facebook page that she was a "very expensive paperweight", and someone who was "highly competent in the art of time wastage, blame shifting and stationary [sic] theft". The Employment Relations Authority ruled that her comments endorsed a stereotypical view of slothful and exploitative public servants and were derogatory of the public service.

Social media rants

Whether or not you can be fired for a social media rant depends on your employer's policies. But you're not doing yourself favours if you make derogatory comments about the company online, disclose confidential information or if you're posting objectionable material from work.

Jane Walker, director of H2R Consulting says give a thought to where and when you are posting. If your location is in an employer's building this might be detectable. Or if you're somewhere other than you claim to be during work hours that could be a problem. General social media behaviours that could get you into hot water at work include: lost productivity, breaching security or confidentiality, cyber bullying, and damage to your employer's brand reputation. Posting detrimental comments about your colleagues on your personal social media timelines is also a no-no.


Being violent or making sexual advances to your colleagues can sully your reputation or result in a serious misconduct charge/dismissal against you.


Theft, fraud and other types of dishonesty may be the end of your current job. In certain industries such as law, finance and teaching, it can also make you unemployable in your former industry.

Being difficult

There are slow burning ways to destroy your career. People who don't get ahead may be consistently difficult, do the bare minimum, fail to complete tasks, make excuses, believe they are above others and the same rules don't apply, dress unprofessionally, have a cup half empty, be defensive, communicate poorly, procrastinate or simply be poor at time keeping.

Donna Freeman, director of Fashion Personnel sees candidates who haven't moved forward in their careers because they are difficult or have unrealistic expectations. Such candidates sometimes think the privilege of their working for an organisation is the employer's not theirs.

Working for the wrong organisation

Sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time can do your employment prospects short or medium term damage. Having the name Blue Chip Financial Services or South Canterbury Finance on your CV wasn't a great look after those companies collapsed, especially if your job was in management, finance or PR spin. You won't see the words Blue Chip or Blue Chip Financial Services on many former employee's CVs. Instead there are blanks or acronyms such as BCS or BCFS.

Former employees of the once-infamous property company could have faced prejudice about their recent past in the aftermath of the very public collapse in 2007/8. Over time that job will fall further and further down page of a CV, which helps in the healing process. A decade on, former Blue Chip employees can be found in senior positions, in banking, insurance, education and other industries in New Zealand and Australia.

Most career mistakes can be recovered from

One of the most public falls from grace in recent years was of former chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association Alasdair Thompson, whose comments about the gender-based pay gaps and a subsequent TV3 interview saw him sacked.

It was a very public fall from grace played out over TV screens for several days. Thompson was quoted three years later in CIO magazine as saying: "The reality is my demise in 2011 and the grief that we felt as a family was the best thing that could have happened to me. Now I am just a different person," he says.
"I have come out stronger."