45% of People Polled Said They'd Work for Raj Rajaratnam. Would You?

By Kelly Eggers

Would you pass up the opportunity to work for one of the biggest names in business, like Steve Jobs or Lloyd Blankfein? What if it was Michael Milken or Bernie Madoff? Experts say you should think twice about working for those who are more infamous than famous.

Almost half of 536 people asked in FINS' Sign or Decline question forum over the past 18 months said they would accept a dream job even if it meant working for Raj Rajaratnam.

Rajaratnam, co-founder of defunct hedge fund manager Galleon Group, was today found guilty of fraud and conspiracy, the culmination of an SEC crackdown on insider trading. He could face up to 19 years in prison. He is expected to appeal.

The near-even split among Sign or Decline respondents suggests that, at least on Wall Street, notoriety and big dollar signs have the potential to cloud a job seeker's judgment. The survey, taken before Rajaratnam was convicted, would perhaps have different results if taken today.

Nonetheless, Frank Dadah, general manager of financial contracts with Boston-based staffing firm Winter, Wyman, says an offer from a firm under scrutiny is one to be wary of.

He cautions that a job with a firm being investigated could be short lived, should the company be convicted and subsequently closed. "You have to think, 'how quickly am I going to be back on the job market?' The potential is there."

Taking a job under a tainted manager can also affect future prospects by being seen as an indication of poor professional judgment by potential future employers.

"This is a case of being perceived as guilty by association," says Dadah. "Even if through some loophole [Rajaratnam] gets off, or is found not guilty for some other reason, when 20 people have already pled guilty, the stigma is already there. People are going to think you subscribe to that value system, even if you don't."

Post-financial crisis, many employers still shy away from applicants from people coming out of sub-prime lenders, according to Dadah. "They can't get a job because of what someone 15 layers above them did," he says.

Some might argue that having a recognizable company name on your resume is one way to get it noticed, but Dadah cautions that in many cases, employers want nothing to do with applicants that have ties to a company with a bad reputation, citing the struggles of employees who worked for Arthur Andersen or Enron during the well-known accounting fraud squabble nearly a decade ago had.

"No matter what you knew or what you didn't know, you are already associated with that company," he said. Despite Arthur Andersen's overturned conviction, in many ways the damage had still been done. "So many of those folks had a hard time finding a job because of the company name on their resume."

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