From the archives
by Peter Weddle
For the first time in modern American history, those in transition now have to worry about serial unemployment. They must endure a grueling and often lengthy job search, and then they have to deal with the ever present possibility that they may lose their job 6, 12 or 18 months down the road. No sooner are they employed, it seems, than they face the prospect of becoming unemployed all over again.
There are, of course, a range of reasons for this phenomenon. The lousy economy, changing consumer tastes, and the introduction of new technology certainly deserve some of the blame. In far too many cases, however, there’s another cause. It’s employers behaving badly.
What does that mean?
Bad employer behavior includes misrepresenting the nature of a job (the tasks it involves or its compensation) and/or the nature of the organization (its culture, values and leadership). The former is rare because it can only occur if recruiters and other employees are complicit in the cover-up and thankfully few are willing to do so. The latter, on the other hand, occurs far more frequently than it should primarily because the warning signs are overlooked or, worse, ignored.
Shopping for a Decent Employer
A decent employer is one that provides the environment, encouragement and support for you to succeed. In short, it’s an organization that respects you as a person of talent. It recognizes the contribution you make to its success and treats you accordingly. As a consequence, you are able to perform at your peak, and that outcome – excelling at your work – is the best guarantor of continued employment.
Respect, however, is a two-way street. Yes, an employer should respect you, but you must also respect yourself. You must think enough of your talent to ensure you can always deliver it on-the-job. You must constantly refresh your skills and knowledge so that your talent is as strong, versatile and durable as it can be and must be in today’s highly competitive global economy.
With self-respect in place, you are in the right position to evaluate the level of respect you would get from prospective employers. How do you make that judgment? Look for telltale signs in the recruiting process of each organization.
- Does the employer acknowledge the receipt of your resume when you submit it and thank you for doing so?
- Does the employer keep you informed of your status as the evaluation process unfolds?
- Does the employer remove filled positions promptly so you are not applying for jobs that are no longer available?
- Does the employer provide a clear and complete description of its culture and values on its organizational website and/or Facebook page?
- If you are invited in for an interview, are you greeted in a friendly and courteous way or are you treated as if you’re just another widget with DNA?
- And, while you are interviewing, are you able to meet with the people who would be your coworkers and are they able to speak freely about their working conditions?
Admittedly, it’s hard to ignore the allure of a job offer when you’re in transition and have financial and other pressures weighing you down. Taking a job – even a good job – with a bad employer, however, can not only undermine your performance on-the-job, it can quickly throw you back out on the bricks looking for work once again.
Thanks for reading,
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