Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to Hang on to a New Job

I know many people hate networking. Hate. It. They feel uncomfortable promoting themselves to others, and many won't even do it when they're desperate for a job. But if these tough times have taught us one thing, it's that if you don't network, someone else will. And, they'll be the ones to get promotions, new jobs and opportunities you'll miss because you're still whining how you don't like to network.

Networking is here to stay. Get used to it. Do it when you're unemployed, do it when you're employed and do it at your kid's soccer game. Just do it.

As you can tell, I feel pretty strongly about the subject. It was the focus on my latest column for Gannett...

You may think that once you land a job you don’t have to sell yourself to others anymore, that your days of trying to establish connections with strangers is over and you can finally just settle down to doing a job and earning a paycheck.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

The truth is that in this job market, no one should give up the skills they developed while searching for work. Instead, you should keep those abilities honed and ready for use in your new position.

“You’ve got to realize that networking inside a company is just as important as when you were networking on the outside trying to get in,” says Thom Singer, a professional speaker and business consultant who often advises others on networking and communication skills.

While your focus when landing a job was on proving you had the necessary experience and could hit the ground running, you need a different game plan in your first days and weeks in a new job. A recent OfficeTeam survey found that 32 percent of workers said that becoming used to a different corporate culture and colleagues would “pose the greatest challenge” when re-entering the workforce after unemployment.

“You want to reach out to people, and ask them for their help. Make them an ally – show that you want to collaborate and you’re not a threat to them,” Singer says. “This is where you make it about other people. You ask them to show you the ropes.”

And never – never – he says, tell others: “This is how we did it at my last company.” You should not, he says, have the attitude that you’re going to jump in and fix all the problems.

Some may consider this confusing advice. After all, doesn’t the new boss need to see that you’re hot stuff and he made the right decision in giving you the job?

Singer says it’s equally important to a manager that a new employee mesh with the existing team.

“Most bosses are very aware of what’s going on. They know who is helping who,” Singer says. “So, you show you’re inclusive by saying that you worked on something with Mary. They’re going to know who did the work and who was willing to share the credit.”

At the same time, taking such steps may help protect your job in the long run. “When companies make cuts, it’s a lot harder to let go of someone who is popular and well-liked as opposed to the loner,” Singer says.

How else can a new worker forge strong in-house ties? Some ideas:

· Recognize the power brokers. Of course you need to impress managers, but don’t forget that many employees without important titles hold key positions. Be friendly to office managers, receptionists, mail room clerks and IT personnel who can help you navigate office politics, provide insight into the company culture and smooth your way in everything from getting office supplies to having a computer glitch fixed.

· Say “yes.” “If you get invited to lunch or out after work, don’t say you have too much work, but find a way to go,” Singer says. “It’s important to your career that you become part of the group, and if you turn them down, they may just stop asking. Then you’re always going to be seen as an outsider.”

· Walk the halls. Don’t confine yourself to becoming friendly with only those in your department. Be friendly and introduce yourself to others in the organization, even if you’re only passing them in the hallway. “It’s very smart to have ties that run throughout a company. That way, if your department has cuts, you could always try and make a lateral move,” Singer says. “That’s going to be much easier if you know other people in those departments.”

Finally, for those who think they can slack off on their networking now that they have a job, Singer has some advice. "Don’t make the mistake of letting your network disappear. In this economy, there are no guarantees,” he says.


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Monday, December 15, 2008

Can Losing a Job Save Your Life?

Would you do your job if you didn't get paid?

If you burst out laughing after reading this question, then this column is for you. If you've broken into tears at the question, this post is for you. If your stomach cramps and your vision starts to blur, this is definitely for you.

This post is for all of you who can't imagine who or what you'd be without your job, but you do know that the word "love" or "passion" has never entered your consciousness when you talk about what you do for a living.

It was much the same story for Kathy Caprino. As a corporate vice president with a high powered job, she thought she had it all: security, money, prestige. She had done what she was supposed to do, and achieved the desired status symbols of a nice office, people at her beck and call and a new home.

Then 9/11 happened and a week later, Caprino was laid off. While she did tell her husband the news, somehow the reality didn't connect with Caprino. For a week after her layoff, she arose each morning, put on her business suit, got in her car -- and drove around each day.

"It's so demoralizing to be laid off," she says. "You're stripped on any kind of self-esteem."

Finally, Caprino was forced to deal with her layoff, and she found herself in therapy "weeping."

"I hated who I had become," she says.

Who Caprino had become was someone who suffered chronic health problems, a stressed, desperately unhappy woman who felt trapped by her job and everything that went along with it. As a middle-aged woman who was the primary breadwinner, Caprino had never thought of doing anything else until she was forced into it with the layoff.

That, Caprino says, is when she discovered that even though she was middle-aged, she could "choose the next chapter."

It's that message that Caprino hopes many people -- especially mid-life professional women -- will hear during these tough times when they may lose their jobs.

"My prayer is that this (job loss) is a wake-up call. When something bad happens, it's time to assess whether you're really aligned with it," she says. "Don't make the mistake of glomming onto the first thing that comes along. Step back. Approach it from an empowered position."

Caprino, who went back to school and has become a therapist and executive coach, says that she has some words of advice (also available in her book, "Breakdown, Breakthrough") for those faced with job loss:

1. Believe you can move forward. Find someone -- a coach, therapist, etc. -- who won't feed your fears, but will help you believe that you can create a new place for yourself. Caprino does say that one coach, whom she paid $800, said that she was in the "perfect" job. "I wanted to stab myself in the eye," Caprino says. "But I recognized that he was as stuck (in his thinking) as I was. It was a friend who said to me: 'I love you dearly, but you're always unhappy.' That's when I knew I had to change."

2. Let go of the beliefs, actions and thoughts that keep you small. Just because you're not 20 anymore doesn't mean you don't have dreams and goals. Look deep inside yourself and think of what else you'd like to do. "Don't assume that a certain job is your role and nothing else. Don't over identify yourself with a job."

3. Say "yes" to honoring yourself. "Don't believe someone else has the power. You have the wherewithal to make your dreams come true."

Are there are other ways someone can find a job they love?

Lijit Search

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