Don’t Throw Mud! 5 Rules to Avoid Career Slander

Don’t start something you can’t finish. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. What goes around comes around. Don’t throw mud unless you want to get dirty.

Ever heard any of these expressions? Avoiding career slander is as simple as paying heed to some of these highly relevant albeit colloquial proverbs. If you want future hiring managers and clients to perceive you as a clean player, don’t get involved in workplace gossip or mudslinging – because it will come back to bite you.

It’s All About Networking

In the CRE recruiting space, we have a saying: “It’s all about networking.” We’re always asking, “Who do you know?” Because a professional network is vital to getting what you want in your career. You help others, and they in turn help you. Maintaining a vibrant network is key in landing your dream job.

But if you’ve bad-mouthed your previous employer or publicly or virtually engaged in a protracted argument with a former client, guess what? You are introducing negativity into your network and spoiling your professional brand.

We tend to think of our interactions as only between us and those we are engaging. But others take note. And yes, you may be totally in the right! But is it worth your career to air the dirty laundry of the company you just left? The mud you sling really can and does splatter back on you.

Avoiding career slander is a two-way street. If you slander others, you will be slandered. But if you rise above the fracas, you project professionalism and ethics that others will notice and value.

Understand Career Slander to Protect from It

Pretending you are immune from stigma or repercussions just because you may be in the right in a given situation is naïve. If you want to maintain a fresh and clean professional aura above the petty squabbles and gossip, play it smart. Here are five rules to remember and live by.

1. If it’s online, it’s forever.

If you say it online, it really is part of your permanent record. Think twice about that snarky comment you want to type to an unreasonable client on social media. Be careful about anything you post on social – employers are checking your accounts.

2. Don’t badmouth an employer.

You never know who that hiring manager is friends with. Not only are you risking offending a hiring manager when you discuss your bad experience with a former employer, but you’re also projecting negativity. No one likes a gossip. If you can, avoid naming names or dwelling on the negative things that happened in your previous position. Focus on lessons learned and circumstances overcome.

3. Anyone could be listening.

It’s important to realize in avoiding career slander, that anyone and everyone can be your accountability buddy. Because you never know who’s listening. Even a waitress or secretary could be somehow connected to the person or entity you are discussing. It might seem like a harmless comment to someone you share an elevator with, but it can get around.

4. Gossip hurts you, too.

If you gossip about one client to another, chances are, that client is now wondering what you say about them behind their back. By getting off your chest something you don’t like about someone who’ve worked for, you literally diminish future opportunities.

5. Career slander is the wrong foot to start on.

If you’re beginning a new career search or positioning yourself for a better position, slinging mud is absolutely unhelpful. Rather than focusing on what went wrong or how underappreciated you are, reflect on what unique skill set and attitudes you bring to the table. If the topic comes up in an interview, we always encourage interviewees to describe the differences between the two positions and why the company you are currently interviewing with would be a better match and a more appealing one to work for. So, avoid long-lasting career slander in your future job search by thinking in terms of opportunity and skills matching

We’ve all been on short end of the stick. We’ve all been wronged or rubbed the wrong way by someone. As tempting as it may be to discuss this in a job interview or casual exchange with a colleague, don’t. If you never sling mud, your chances are much higher of coming out clean in the end.

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