How Can I Not Tweet My Way Out of a Job?

Ask Brad: Dos and Don'ts of Finding Work in an Age of Social Media

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There are only so many grandmothers who can die. There are only so many kids who can get the swine flu, and there are only so many times that you can wear a suit to the office because you're "going to the opera with your wife" that night.

In these days of full disclosure, transparency and social media, how can you keep your job search discreet and not run the risk of losing your current job?

Even though he may have gotten away with it, don't pull a Ferris Bueller when it comes to looking for a new job. Follow these tips for the proper way to make your next move:

Brad Karsh
Brad Karsh is president of JobBound and JB Training Solutions. For more information on the job search, check out Brad's upcoming Ad Age webcast, "Attacking the Job Search to Land the Work You Want."

1. Mind your digital dirt.
This may come as a shock to you, but when you post something on the internet, a lot of people have access to that information. You see, it's called the WORLD WIDE web for a reason.

You'd think this would be obvious, but the Twitter, Facebook and blog blunders continue to amaze me. In case you missed it, consider the tale of Connor Riley, a.k.a. "Cisco Fatty."

The young jobseeker recently tweeted:

"Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work."

Someone from Cisco replied to that tweet, saying:

"Who is the hiring manager? I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."


Please keep the job-searching stories to yourself. Feel free to call a friend, but when it comes to looking for something new, don't post it online.

2. Keep it out of the office.
Do not search for a new job at the office. Again, it may sound obvious, but I do corporate workshops on business etiquette, and I've had several HR directors ask me, "Brad, can you please advise them to at least minimize CareerBuilder on their computers before they head out to lunch? It's offensive to walk by their cubes and see the jobs they've just applied for."

Those are the nice companies, by the way. The not-so-nice ones would simply fire you.

The same goes for a little discretion on job-search phone calls. Here's the rule: Your current workplace is for current work. Your home or personal e-mail or cellphone is for your potential new job.

Don't include your work e-mail address or phone number on a resume -- I've seen that, too -- and don't make or take calls from the office.

3. Be professional.
Remember, we work in a small industry. People move between agencies and between titles and roles frequently. Today's boss could be tomorrow's boss -- just at a new company. You don't want to burn bridges.

To the extent that you can, you don't want to lie or be deceptive, or do anything inappropriate when it comes to the job search.

Don't call in sick to go on an interview if you're not sick; take a vacation day. Don't badmouth a current employer. It simply tells potential employers you would do the same to them one day. And don't ask someone at your current company to serve as a reference if it isn't public that you're leaving.

Here's what you should do, though:

Go to your employer if you are thinking about leaving, and try to resolve the issue before you quit. In my many years in HR, one of my biggest frustrations was that good people would leave before they gave us a chance to address the issue. You owe it to yourself and to your company to try to fix it first.

They would say,

"I left because I couldn't work on Kellogg's any longer, and I didn't think Clive would ever let me move off."


"I couldn't stand my boss, so I had to leave."

From a company's standpoint, if the options are having you quit or having you move accounts, they'd much prefer you to move accounts.

Now if you talk to HR or management and they still won't move you, then it may be time to pursue the job search -- just be discreet about it.

In my next column, I'll address Part Two of this topic: You've done everything you can to keep your job search discreet. Still, you've been outed -- either by a friend, colleague's or potential new employer's tweet, or by your own misstep. I'll explain how to deal with the short- and long-term consequences of job-search blunders.

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