Friday, October 17, 2008

10 "Uh-Oh" Signs at Work




If one more person tells me not to panic, well, I might just panic.

The truth is, we get up every morning and we're not sure what is going to happen. The stock market will rise. It will fall. Chicken Little will go running down the street screaming something about the sky.

So, while it's easy for all the experts to tell us not to panic, it's kind of hard not to be a teensy bit apprehensive about what might await us every day. That's why I'm giving you this checklist so that you can be aware when it might be time to panic. Not that I'm a doomsayer. I'm just sayin'.

The 10 "Uh-Oh" signs at work:

1. Co-workers are putting stickers, bearing their names, on your office furniture.
2. The security guard takes your i.d. and draws a big "X" through your photo.
3. The electricity has been turned off in your cubicle. And mothballs put in your desk drawers.
4. The boss's secretary begins crying whenever she sees you, offering you gum and saying, "I always liked you."
5. HR included store coupons in your most recent paycheck.
6. The guy at the deli where you eat every day takes your "frequent eater" card and tears it up.
7. The IT department has changed your logon to "dead2us."
8. John McCain returns your donation check with a note: "You need this more than I do."
9. The mailroom guy is using your mailbox to store his lunch.
10. You finally get the best reserved parking space in the whole company.

What are some other "uh-oh" signs?




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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to Know When It's Time to Take Your Job Off Life Support

You can't exactly put your finger on it, but somehow your job has started sucking the life force out of you.

Every day you feel a little more depressed, a little more like maybe you should just call in sick and sit home and watch "Cash Cab."

Still, the thought of looking for another job is even more depressing. There's the business of writing the resume. You know you'll face rejections. You'll have to go on interviews, and that ranks right up there with with having someone wax your entire body.

OK, maybe things aren't that bad at work, you think. Maybe you will somehow pull yourself out of this rut. After all, it's better to keep bringing home a paycheck than try to get another job when millions of others are trying to do the same thing, right? Who knows...the next job might be even worse.

Not so fast. It may be it's time to consider what your gut is trying to tell you, and it's this: Your job is headed down the toilet.

How to recognize that it's time to get the resume together? Consider these signs:
* The paper trail. I'm always amazed when people don't understand that a case is being built against them whenever they start getting those snarky memos from managers, using words and phrases like "failed" and "falls short" and "not up to standards" and "missed deadlines."
* The "whammo" performance evaluation. Sort of a Whack-a-Mole game for managers, where everything positive you bring up is slapped down. Another sign a case is being built against you.
* You have tread marks on your back. Those are signs that others have been running you over on their way to promotions that should have been yours. Missing a couple of opportunities may not be a big deal, but more than that means you're on the fast track to Doomed.
* You repel money. Pay raises? Forget it. Your budget is reduced or put under the jurisdiction of someone else. You're not part of a project that is expected to bring in big money or spend big money. The office manager always seems to lose your request for new equipment.
* Everyone is too busy for you. Your calls are not being returned, and your e-mails seem to suffer the same fate. You're not included in key meetings, and no one stops to shoot the breeze with you anymore. While you may think this is OK, it's really a sign that others perceive you as someone on the outs.

Finally, keep in mind that even though the job market is tough right now, it's much better to be looking for work on your terms. It's always easier to look for a job when you have a job. Don't wait until it's too late and you're forced to join the unemployed masses.

What are some other signs a job may be in trouble? Is there a way to recover?


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Friday, June 27, 2008

Don't Kid Yourself: Your Private E-mail May Be Anything But When You're at Work

We've heard the warnings time and again: What you write in an e-mail is subject to your employer not only reviewing it -- but firing you if it is believed you violated company policy.

But let's get real: While at work, many of us still send our friends e-mails about where to meet for dinner, we still send that dirty joke to our significant other and we still e-mail our children to tell them that their grades are slipping and they better get on the ball. We tell a co-worker how pissed we are that our boss is a jerk.

But how would you feel if you used your private e-mail account at work -- and the employer still nosed around in it?

That's at the heart of the case one man has filed against his former employer, claiming that the company got ahold of his private e-mails, which were to his lawyers discussing pending legal action against his employer.

Laws about e-mail are still a bit fuzzy as they are being debated in board rooms and court rooms around the country.

Does an employee have the right to privacy more than a company has the right to monitor e-mail that affects them legally?

As the lawyers wrangle it out, it might be a good idea to remember that until the dust settles you should follow the best advice I was ever given by a top technology lawyer: Never put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn't want displayed before 12 lawyers in a court of law.

Just a final note here: I'm now on Alltop, which has all the top stories updated every 10 minutes. Have a great weekend.


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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Keep Job Desperation Under Control

When interviewing for a job, most people get a little nervous. And if you’ve recently been laid off or fired from your last position, that fear may escalate since recruiters and companies tend to avoid anyone who seems even the least bit desperate.

But there is a way to help set aside those prejudices and put a positive spin on the fact that even though you're currently without work, you're still a viable candidate for a position.

If you have been fired: Present the logic of how your "de-hiring" (being fired) happened in four or five sentences. You should at all costs avoid saying that you were "fired" since interviewers tend to not hear anything else once that word has been said. Instead, say that you left by "mutual agreement", and never sound defensive or cast blame.

If you've been laid off: Be honest. There will be a certain degree of understanding from the interviewer since it has become more common across all industries. Again, avoid sounding bitter or resentful toward the company or management. You can tell an interviewer that you received a terrific severance or buyout package that you decided to accept -- if that is what happened.

The key to putting a positive spin on either being fired or laid off is to tell an interviewer that you used the time to pursue additional education, or that you used it as family time to reassess your life and carefully plan your future. By expressing these actions as real acts of courage -- that it's often difficult to look ahead but you did it -- then you give the interviewer an impression of strength.

Further, make sure you tell the interviewer how taking these actions brought improvements, such as furthering your education or having meaningful time with your family that helped crystalize your future plans.

Finally, make sure that you are well-prepared to answer questions from an interviewer by practicing with a family member or friend, or even videotaping yourself to look for areas of improvement. Always have specific examples that demonstrate how you've used your skills to handle situations on the job or at home, and make sure you end the interview with a positive statement.


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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Isaiah Washington's Big Mistakes

I recently watched Isaiah Washington on “Larry King Live” as he discussed his feelings about being fired for making reportedly homophobic comments about his fellow cast mate, T.R. Knight, who is gay.

I sat in awe as I watched this guy dig a hole so deep for himself he may never get out of it. In fact, he broke just about every rule you can regarding your work performance and a former employer.

Here’s what needs to be learned by everyone regarding this nasty little fight between Washington and his colleagues and his bosses:
  • It’s a small world. If you work in a specific industry, such as Washington’s acting arena, you’re going to run into many of the same people throughout the course of your career. That means that you don’t muddy the waters with nasty comments about people you might come to work with again in the future. Keep in mind that someone you badmouth today may be someone who can hire you in the future – or be your boss.
  • You are often remembered more for how you leave a job than anything else. No matter how angry you might be at other people when you walk out that door, keep your mouth shut. Offer a handshake and a smile and just leave. Anything you say otherwise will be gossiped about for weeks or years to come. Washington’s name will forever be linked with not only what he said to start the gossip, but what he did to perpetuate it. Trust me, the man’s obit in 50 years will mention the spat.
  • Let it go for your own peace of mind. Dwelling on the past, as Washington appears to be doing, does not help you get another job. You need to be upbeat, enthusiastic and focused on the future – not past problems. Whether he has a legitimate gripe or not, he’s not helping himself or his family by trying to rewrite history.
  • Grace under pressure is underrated. I once had a boss who treated me and everyone else like garbage. But when I resigned, my letter simply stated the fact that I was leaving in two weeks. I didn’t offer anything else, and that prompted her to look me in the eye and claim, “You know, I’m not easy to work for, but you’ve been grace under pressure.” I kept my gag reflex under control, and felt like I hadn’t let her “win.” I had kept my cool, my perspective…and gotten the heck out of there with my sanity intact. Think of how the message boards would look if Washington had stopped whining and instead nabbed another great job without badmouthing everyone in the process.




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