Monthly Archive for October, 2009

Career Advice: You’ve Been Passed Over; Now What?


Career Counseling

You sincerely believe you are the best qualified among the candidates for the promotion to manager of your department. You believe you deserve it. Your friends agree.

But, wham! The rug has been pulled out from under you. The position you would have given an eyetooth for goes to someone else. Your ego is trampled. You are mad and disappointed. You to tell the boss where to go. You are ready to quit.

But hold on. Apply a little common career sense before you go off the deep end. You’ve still got your job and this is a good time to consider where you want to go with your career path.

Force your chin up. Congratulate the winner right away. This will be painful, but it actually will help you regain your balance. Moreover, it will strengthen your position as a team player.

This is a dangerous time for you. Simmer awhile before you act. Brood and grieve a little in private if it makes you feel better. Reject bitterness; it’s poison. Look beyond your ego. Sure, your feelings have been bruised. No need to be ashamed of that.

But really has all of this been damaging to your long-term career goals?

Time To Be Objective

Your greatest need at this is to understand the “why” behind the situation.

Start with a discussion with your boss. Remember, you are there to gain information, not to argue your case. Don’t beat around the bush. Admit you are sorely disappointed. Assure your boss thatyou are not resentful. Pledge 100 percent allegiance to the team. Admit, however, that you are concerned about what has happened and what it may mean for the future of your career.

Focus on the critical questions. Has your past performance been at least up to par? Are you as qualified or better than the competitors? What might you have done to improve your chances to win the promotion?

Did you miss some signals from your boss, telling you to improve you performance? Were there any bonafide indicators saying you were a candidate for promotion? Or have you been engaged in wishful thinking?

What qualification did you not have? Will there be other chances to win promotions? What can you do to improve your qualifications for advancement?

You must listen carefully to both what is said as well as what is implied between the lines. Be aware that you will be strongly inclined to hear the best side of the story.

And don’t forget, it is the most natural thing in the world for the boss to try to soften the message. Besides, if you have been doing an adequate job in your present slot he will want to keep you around.

Now you are ready to get to the bottom-line. Review all of the facts. Do you agree with what you learned from your review with the boss? Have you been treated fairly? Were there legitimate reasons you were passed over?

Do you care enough to take the necessary action to win the next time? Do you have a reasonably secure future in the organization? Can you be happy where you are? What are the acceptable alternatives to achieve your career goals?

Being passed over may be a blessing, although if it is, it appears to be quite will disguised. You have an opportunity to gain a more realistic view of where you are, where you want to go and what you have to do to get there. Or you may conclude you are satisfied with your present position, so you can relax with more time to smell the roses.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Admit You Need Help, Build Your Strengths

Forget the macho mode. You are not expected to know everything or to be perfect in all regards as your pursue your career goals.

Never be afraid to admit you need help and then ask for it. Many careerists, otherwise smart and capable, hamstring themselves by believing they lose face if they say, “Hey, I don’t understand this problem, much less what to do about it. Please help me.”

Career Tip: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is just the opposite; it is a sign of strength and maturity. When you ask for help, you are paying a compliment to the one you ask. You are saying, “You know something I don’t know. I trust you.”

Everyone likes to be asked to help.

When you put your ego aside and seek help on your career path those you ask for assistance find themselves in your debt.

None of this is to suggest that it is always easy to ask for help. Admitting a shortcoming tramples a bit on the ego.

If you’ve made a mistake, admit it right away. Nobody is perfect. You have a right to make a few mistakes. If you act promptly, there is usually time to correct the situation. It is well to heed Confucius who declared, “Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.”

If you are working for a boss who doesn’t accept this premise, you are in a relationship that doesn’t bode well for your career path.

Career Tip: Don’t make a habit of asking for help to duck responsibility, to take a shortcut, or so you can sit on your butt. If you’ve made your best effort and you still come up short, then reach out for assistance.

Volunteer to help others. Step in to offer a hand in finishing a tough project. Let it be known that you are ready to help those with less experience.

When you get help, don’t be shy about sharing credit with those who gave you a hand and shared their knowledge.

When you ask for help and get it, be sure to seal the transaction with a sincere, “Thank you.” That simple step, often overlooked, paves the way to ask for more assistance when it is needed.

If you ask for assistance and no one steps forward to help, look out. You are in an unhealthy situation.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Don’t Blame Yourself For Rejections In Your Job Search

Career Advice

All of the vibes seemed positive. You’ve had a series of interviews with a potential employer, beginning with the human resources officer heading up the job search and moving through to the manager to whom the position reports. It looks like a perfect fit for your particular education and experience. There’s even been discussion of a starting date. Lunch with the division vice president, which you are told is really just a sign-off, couldn’t have gone better.

It looks like a marriage made in heaven. You want the job; the organization seems to want you. You’ve been told that you’ll get the final “welcome aboard” notice within a few days.

Days and finally weeks go by with no offer. The feedback from your follow-up calls is positive. In the meantime, you have put your job search on hold. You’ve passed up some attractive leads for other opportunities.

Then, the bomb drops. You get the dreaded e-mail: “We appreciate your interest in joining our organization, but we have decided to select another candidate whose particular set of skills and experience more nearly meet our needs. We wish you success.”

Four lessons from this scenario are loud and clear:

1. Never fall in love with one position. Be flexible; play the field.

2. Never take anything for granted. The deal is never complete until its signed, sealed and delivered.

3. Keep your search on the front burner until you have a job firmly in hand.

4. Don’t blame yourself. You made your best effort and realize that much of the influence on hiring decisions is beyond your control.

The latter point is particularly critical if you are experiencing multiple rejections. Ofer Sharone, an assistant professor at MIT Sloan School of Management who is researching this topic declares:

“It is personally devastating to start thinking there is something wrong with you. People start to believe that they are flawed…that there is something internally and deeply wrong with them. This (leads) to discouragement and people stopping the job search. If you start to think that it’s your fault you’re not getting a job, in many cases once you get to that stage it’s very hard to continue job searching.”

He says this typically happens for those who are unemployed for six months or longer and becomes stronger with time.

Sharone concludes that there are always significant elements in any job search that are beyond your control.

I wish your career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Think Twice Before Relocating For Job

You’ve been sitting on the edge of your chair, waiting for that offer for the job you badly want. Bingo! The offer comes through. But there’s just one hang-up: you’d have to move to a new location half way across the country.

You should back off and carefully analyze your needs as compared to the cost of the opportunity. That’s right, “cost”, because there’s a price tag on every opportunity along the career path.

Consider these career tips:

1. Compare the cost of living between where you currently reside and the new location. What appears to be a raise may not be a raise after all. For example, the cost of a house or rent in Warren, Arkansas, a town of 6,000 or so, is far different from, say, Chicago. There are more differences to consider: taxes, food, transportation, etc.

On the other hand, for example, you might gain from a move Chicago to Warren.

2. Would your new employer pay your moving expenses? What about guaranteeing you against loss if you sell your house? What about the cost of temporary housing while you look for a new place?

3. If your spouse has a job in your present location, would your new employer help him/her find employment?

4. How would the move impact your family? Leaving relatives behind is a tough business. The same is true for life-long friends. Would the new job require travel or a work schedule that impinges on your family time?

Beyond these considerations, you need to have a solid degree of comfort as to the new work-place environment. If possible, meet the new boss and co-workers.

Make a family visit to the new location. If you are a parent take your children to visit the new school.

If you decide to make the move, be prepared for some rough sledging for three of four months. You’ll likely be homesick. Getting reasonable comfortable in new surroundings, new people, and new conditions at work takes some time for acclimation.

Margie Newman, at flackrabbit.com> writes: “Know this: you are going to dislike your job, be homesick and wonder what the heck you’ve gotten into for the first three months. Be prepared to think you’ve made a mistake–relocating is scary stuff–but trust your gut and know this is a smart move.”

Make no mistake. Pulling up stakes and moving to a new job across the country or across town, for that matter, is no walk in the park. Nevertheless, done properly it can be a very smart and productive step forward in your career path.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work