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Viral workplace TikTok videos can get you fired

Dear J.T. & Dale: I am a senior-level manager at a large company that is restructuring. I might lose my job. So, I decided to hire a resume writer to spruce up my resume. It cost me $2,000. I sent the resume out to over 50 jobs and never even got a single phone call. I’m furious. The resume writer is refusing to refund me the money and says that he never guaranteed that I would get an interview. It sounds like layoffs are coming soon. I’m stressed out and don’t know what to do. – Craig

J.T.: I always cringe when I hear that somebody has spent that kind of money on a resume writer. What most people don’t understand is that resume writers design the resume to impress you, not the hiring manager. The result is that you sound really self-important, which is actually the opposite of what recruiters are looking for.

DALE: That’s a profound insight and makes me wonder if anyone should hire a resume writer, given all the resources available for DIY versions. Further, no matter how great your resume, it probably isn’t going to get you a job. I’ve encountered too many job searchers who devote all their efforts to revising the resume they use to send out online, causing me to resort to this advice: Burn the resume and start making connections.

J.T.: If you are only applying online, then you are essentially not job searching at all. Less than 3% of workers ever hear back when they apply online because the sheer volume of applications is so high these days. The online application process has made it possible for absolutely anyone to apply to these jobs, stuffing the inbox and making it very competitive. I would encourage you to focus more on a bucket list of employers that you know can hire for your skill set and start networking with people who work there. In spite of all this fancy technology, the majority of jobs are gotten via referral today. The sooner you start networking, the better!

Dear J.T. & Dale: There is a new app called TikTok. Everybody in my office is making these little videos at work. I am fully annoyed. I feel like people are wasting a lot of time on the job, making these on company time. They claim they were doing it on their breaks. My boss has no idea what they are doing, and if she knew she’d be upset. Should I say something to them? – Corrine

DALE: I’m quite familiar with TikTok because my granddaughter (whom I’m helping to raise) devotes hours every week to creating videos for the site. I used to worry about all that time, but the work is creative and the feedback she gets is positive and affirming. So it can be a wonderful hobby. However, like any hobby, you bring it into the office and it creates distractions and/or resentments.

J.T.: It is funny that you should ask about this. There have been several cases in the news recently where TikToks that went viral got people fired. For example, there was a young man who took a bath in the kitchen sink at a restaurant. There was also another one where some airline ramp workers took some videos on equipment. In both of these cases, the employees were fired because they were in violation of code of ethics and safety standards for their employment agreements. I think we are in interesting times in that social media has made it very attractive for people to try to go viral, even at the cost of their jobs. I guess it makes sense. If you don’t enjoy your work that much, the idea of getting a lot of attention for doing something more creative seems attractive. That said, I think we’re going to see a lot more backlash around this in the future. My advice is to stay out of it. They will eventually get caught and you don’t want to be a part of it. Being a person who tells on them will just alienate you.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2020 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.