Monthly Archive for February, 2009

You’re Fired; Be Ready, It Can Happen To You

Common Sense Career Advice

“We feel you would be happier working for another company.”

“Sorry, business is falling off. We no longer need your services.”

“Operations are being consolidated in Mexico. The Bedrock Plant will be closed Feb. 1.”

Sugar-coated or not, the message is the same: You have been sacked. You are out of a job! You are in a rough patch on your career path.

Anyone can get the axe at any time. It happens to good people and bad ones…hard workers as well as slackers. But it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve career success.

13 Career Tips To Survive and Prosper

Therefore, it makes common sense to know what to do to survive and prosper should you ever get the dreaded “pink slip”.

1. Keep in mind that in the current environment the idea of tomb to womb job security is as dead as a hammer. Be loyal to your present employer, but never develop a romance with the organization. Know that the relationship can end at any time. There is enough suffering in store for anyone over the loss of a job without adding the pains of an unrequited love. Look out for yourself first.

2. Be alert and well informed at all times about the outlook for your employer and your job. If you know things are going down the drain, begin a below-the-radar search for other opportunities. If the axe falls, you’ll have a head start on finding another job.

3. Stay prepared financially. Always try to have enough cash in reserve to cover at least three months living expenses.

4. Keep your skills up to date with the needs of the job market. Capitalize on opportunities for additional training. Read the literature of your field.

5. Maintain an up-to-date record of your accomplishments so you can produce a resume in 24 hours.

6. Nurture contacts with people in your line of work and with those likely to employ your type of qualifications. Be visible through outside activities and positive publicity.

7. Help others who lose their jobs. Also, be of assistance to those who are looking to recruit employees. They may help you some day.

8. Understand your emotions.

Psychologist Bill Weber says getting fired is very much like dealing with the death of a loved one.

“The first reaction is denial, or wishful thinking. There’s been a mistake. This can’t be true,” Dr. Weber says. “Then the shock sets in, followed by anger, depression, frustration and fear. Worst of all is the loss of self-esteem.”

9. If you get fired, allow some time for grieving, but not too much. Don’t just sit there feeling sorry for yourself. It’s natural to be angry with your employer, but don’t let your feelings show. You still need him. Negotiate the best possible severance package possible for continuing pay and benefits, particularly insurance coverage. Don’t forget good references, too.

10. Start immediately to launch your search for another, better job. Use this time to reassess the career goals you have set for the rest of your life. Define the job that will enable you to achieve these objectives.

11. Prepare a career plan to market yourself. Let it be known you are available; “advertise” what you have to offer. Involve your network of friends and family in the job search.

12. Be patient. Recognize it will probably take time to find another acceptable position.

13. Don’t panic. If you possibly can afford to wait, don’t jump on the first opportunity that comes down the pike, unless, of course, it really matches up with your objectives.

Finally, keep two things in mind:

1. It can happen to anyone.

2. A high percentage of people end up with better jobs than the ones from which they were fired.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Eight Steps To Soften The Blow When You Have To Fire Someone

Firing people is a tough and unpleasant task no matter how you slice it and dice it. Career paths are disrupted. Hopes for career success are dashed. But when it’s necessary, there are eight common sense steps you can take to soften the blow.

1. Deliver the bad news in a face-to-face meeting whenever possible. The boss has to do it. There can be no delegation of this responsibility. It is desirable to have one other person present, especially if the meeting might end in a heated confrontation. But no more than one additional person, or else it may appear that a kangaroo court is in session.

2. Conduct the meeting in a strict, arms-length business-like manner. Explain in detail the reasons for the action and the terms of severance. Make the message straightforward. Provide a take-away written document covering the key points of the message.

3. A firing is a firing; don’t try to sugar coat it with fancy language. Express empathy. But don’t pretend you know how a person feels losing a job; you don’t because you are still employed.

Resist being overly generous in praise for the employee’s contributions. Such expressions may be translated into some unfounded hope that the decision can be reversed. Also, in this litigious age, a disgruntled employee may take praise out of context for legal action.

4. Offer to provide help in getting another job if you are sure you can deliver on the promise.

5. Provide employees with an opportunity to have their say. This can be a very tedious time. Because of the high emotions on both sides, an angry shouting match can develop. Or the employee may simply be in a state of shock. The manager should maintain his calmness, avoid arguments. Don’t let it become personal.

6. Provide a way for severed employees to follow up with a company representative who can answer personal questions about terms and benefits.

7. Remember that firings effect more than the employees concerned. There are families, neighbors, merchants and others to think of. Make a public announcement of the facts before the rumormill kicks in.

8. It may seem heartless at the time, but it is best to have the fired employee leave the premises within a very short time. The clear-out-your-desk and be-gone-by-noon approach is unduly harsh. However, no good is done for anyone if the dismissed employee stays around for any length of time. The water for all will be poisoned by gossip and recriminations.

Believe it or not, while never welcomed, the negative impact of firings – if they are justified by sound personnel and economic reasons – can be mitigated if all parties work at making the best of a bad situation.

I wish you career success in 2009

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Don’t Let Difficult People Stymie Your Career

Unless you are among the luckiest people in the world, or you are totally free of all relationships in the real world, you have to cope with difficult people along your career path.

Some secretaries are habitually late for work; others can’t spell. Customers are often rude. Co-workers can be abusive and uncooperative as they guard their turf. Others may goof off leaving you to pick up the slack. There are bosses who consistently make unreasonable demands and never have a kind word to say. Heaven forbid, you may be difficult sometimes.

Don’t waste your time searching for a utopia where there are no difficult people. Instead, spend your time figuring out how to manage these relationships so that they don’t become roadblocks to your career success and that of the organization.

Career Blockers Come In Seven Forms

In his book, Coping With Difficult People, Dr. Robert M. Bramson identifies seven basic patterns of difficult behavior:

1. Hostile-Aggressive, Bullies.

2. Complainers.

3. Silent and Unresponsive.

4. Super-Agreeables.

5. Negativists.

6. Know-It-All Experts.

7. Indecisives.

Nine Ways To Deal With Difficult People

Do you recognize any of these types? Sure you do. It is easy. The hard challenge is how to cope with them so they don’t impede as you pursue your career goals. Here are nine common sense suggestions that should help.

1. Recognize you are not “just being negative and difficult” yourself when you acknowledge the reality that the world is brim full of difficult people.

2. Keep your eyes on your personal career goals. Don’t let hard-to-get-along-with people become a personal issue. Keep difficult persons in the proper perspective.

3. Remember, you don’t have to like a person to get along with him or her.

4. Recognize you can be difficult, too.

5. Try to understand why difficult people are difficult. Have a strategy to deal with each difficult person who is important to your getting the job done.

6. Be big enough to accommodate with the difficult person, up to a point. Be patient, but not too patient.

7. Try to ignore the person and the situation. Maintain as much distance – physically, organizationally and emotionally – as possible between yourself and the source of difficulty.

8. However, try as you might, there may come a time when it makes common sense to recognize that some relationships are too difficult to live with.

When this happens, draw the line. Go to your boss, explain the situation and ask for him to resolve it by moving you to another position away from the trouble-maker or by correcting or removing that person.

9. Finally, if you have made your best effort along the lines discussed here and the difficulty still exists and it is hurting your personal life and career ambitions, you have but one choice. Suffer the situation or leave for another position.

But keep in mind there will be difficult people wherever your career leads.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: How To Be One Of The Top 20

Eighty percent of the work is done by twenty percent of the people employed no matter the type or size of the organization.

In this time of economic uncertainty, it just makes common sense to work your butt off to be sure you are in that segment that is getting the job done. Make yourself essential to move forward on your career path.

Here are some job tips on how to be in the top 20.

Know where your job fits in the scheme of things and what is expected from you. If you and your boss don’t have a clear picture of your role, ask for directions.

Work with a plan to achieve career success. Set goals with specific actions and timelines.

Find out what challenges your boss is facing. Make your boss’s job easier, not harder. Demonstrate you are helping him to reach his career goals.

Stay up to date on what’s happening with your company. Don’t ask for a raise when things are on the skids with your employer.

Do more with less. Go above and beyond the call of duty. Take the initiative; come up with new ideas. Come in early, stay late.

Seek additional training to improve your value and increase your chances of landing a new job if the pink slip comes.

As added insurance, maintain your contacts within and outside of the organization that employs you.

Solve problems, don’t create them. Don’t require special attention from your boss and your co-workers.

Be a team player. Share the work load, as well as the credit.

Don’t waste your time gossiping and rumormongering.

Be sure to document the results of your on-the-job performance. Make sure your employer knows the effort you’re making and the results achieved. Ask for regular performance appraisal so you can make mid-course corrections as you pursue your career goals..

Review your performance for the past 12 months. Have you contributed to your employer’s success?

Recognize there are no shortcuts to career success.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Stick To The Truth In Your Resume

Let’s admit it. In these tough times job seekers may tempted to pad their resumes. That is, be less than truthful.

Don’t do it; stick to the facts.

Only 8 percent of applicants admit to fibbing in their resumes in a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com However, nearly half of hiring managers surveyed say they have caught candidates lying on their resumes. Nearly six out of ten said they automatically dismissed the application.

If a dishonest resume leads to a job, it can still come back to haunt you if the truth comes out, as is likely. Overstating experience can also lead to failure by putting an applicant in a job he can’t handle.

Human resources people are better equipped and more alert than ever to spot transgressions such as grossly inflating accomplishments, positions and salary to the extent they don’t jibe with age and education/training; being inaccurate about dates to cover gaps in employment; overstating compensation.

It’s okay to put the best face on a resume so long as facts support claims. This can mean being choosy about what is included and being creative and positive in the choice of words.

I wish you success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work