How to deal with a scandal at work

When Roseanne Barr made the social media remarks that led to her show’s cancellation, it cost more than 200 people their jobs. In this case, because the scandal was so public, these writers, actors, crew members and other workers will not be tainted with association. But in lesser known cases, it can happen.

If you work in a business that goes bankrupt because someone (or maybe a lot of people) did something wrong, it could affect your ability to work. It’s not fair, but sometimes when a dark cloud surrounds a business it can taint everyone involved.

To counter this, there are steps you can take. What you can’t do is put your head in the sand. If you’ve worked for a company or a boss overthrown by a scandal, you need to be proactive.

Networking is a key part of hiring. Image source: Getty Images.

Go out there

It’s hard to explain in a resume or cover letter that, yes, you worked for Harvey Weinstein, but, no, you had no idea what he was doing behind closed doors. This is an extreme example, but it shows how scandal can taint people even if they have nothing to do with bad deeds.

If this is your case, the best remedy is to network and ask potential employers to get to know you. If you proactively meet people who might hire you, you can get ahead of their questions and answer their potential questions about your past. In person, it’s much easier to explain that you were as surprised as everyone else when the scandal became public, or to detail how far removed you were from it.

Prepare professional references

In many cases, check the references is a formality. If you’ve worked in a scandal-ridden company, however, having people who can vouch for your character becomes much more important.

If you’re having trouble securing interviews, you may want your professional references – people who can attest to your impeccable work and integrity – to be part of your networking process. Have these contacts contact people who may be hiring on your behalf.

Take a temporary job

Sometimes it makes sense not to look for a full time job. If you’re having trouble getting hired, you may want to consider taking a job as a consultant or even embarking on a volunteer project. The goal is to have an entry on your CV that gives you some distance from your scandal-affected former employer.

It’s important that whatever you do is meaningful and fits with your career story. This is the opportunity to allow a company to see some of your work without committing yourself. And, at worst, it’s a chance to have another referral / lawyer on your side.

It’s about being proactive

When a company posts a job posting, in many cases the hiring manager is inundated with resumes and cover letters. For this reason, the hiring person may look for reasons not to hire you. Even something as small as having your last scandalous employer could land you on the discard pile.

To avoid this, you have to be active. All of the above steps go beyond just applying for a job. If you take some, you should be able to get past any unfortunate events that have tainted you by association.

About Gertrude H. Kerr

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