But It Wasn't Me Who Posted That Keg-Stand Picture!

Ask Brad: What to Do When You Get Busted By Someone Else's Online Indiscretion

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If you read my last article, you saw the dangers of job searching in a digital age. You also learned all the steps necessary to make sure you don't become the next "Cisco Fatty."

Brad Karsh
Brad Karsh is president of JobBound and JB Training Solutions. For more information on the job search, check out Karsh's new book Stop Job Searching, Start Networking.

But what if you follow the sage advice and something still happens? Let's say your friend posts the picture of you doing your famous keg stand. Or maybe your mom asks how the job search is going on your Facebook wall. Or you told your boss you're freelancing on the side, but the work is generating tweets that might make your employer concerned about the amount of time that's being taken away from your full-time job.

Oops.

Sadly, for a few of us, these scenarios may strike a bit too close to home. If that's the case, let's go through each scenario and discuss a crisis-management plan.

Case A: Keg-stand picture -- you're tagged!

So what can you do to make sure you don't end up like this guy? Whatever the inappropriate picture or image may be, here's what you should do:

  1. Make sure the picture is taken down. Now.
    That's an obvious answer, but make sure it's done quickly.
  2. Try to make a joke about it if confronted.
    My twin brother is a nut, isn't he?
    How funny that they found that picture from 2003!
    I was applying for the new game show -- "America's Most Scandalous Pictures."
  3. Be on your best behavior at work.
    Here's what I mean: You now need to do everything in your power to combat the reputation that inappropriate picture just created. Work extra hours, drink iced tea at the company picnic and keep your personal life out of the office.

Case B: Mom Facebooks/tweets about your job search

This can be sticky because it could lead to you getting fired on the spot or you losing the chance for a new job (see Cisco Fatty).

  1. Use humor to downplay the issue.
    I'm actually applying to work at Dairy Queen on the weekends. It's a "job" volunteering for a charity. You know moms.
    My mom's a bit behind in the times. She was asking about this job I'm working at now.
  2. Fess up.
    You could go to HR and let them know why you're thinking of leaving. It might save your job and improve your situation if you're honest and constructive.
  3. Postpone the job search.
    If you say you're not job hunting and then you leave for a new job in two weeks, you look like a liar and damage your reputation. Many job seekers don't care about their former company, but it's a small business, and yesterday's HR director could become tomorrow's HR director.

Case C: Your boss thinks freelancing is infringing on real work

If you're working on side jobs while at your full-time job, there can be serious consequences. You need to proceed carefully if your boss is suspicious about your work hours and productivity.

  1. Send your freelance updates via e-mail or text.
    I know it sounds obvious, but it isn't like you have to use Twitter.
  2. Put in extra time at work.
    True or not, you need to combat the perception that you're focusing too much time on the freelance job.
  3. Don't joke about it.
    You actually don't want to use humor with this one! It's a serious matter. Make sure your boss knows you are 110% dedicated to your full-time job.

I hope no one is put in one of these unenviable positions, but if the situation does present itself, you want to be prepared.

Finally, if all else fails, there's a company called Reputation Defender that you can hire to clean up your digital dirt.

Good luck.

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