Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't let desperation fuel a bad job choice

The sad truth is that many A/E firms - even profitable ones - are laying off staff. For most of us, losing our job is a personally demoralizing and disempowering event - even if the reasons we have been let go are completely unrelated to our job performance or work habits. As our period of unemployment lengthens from weeks to months, our notions about what is a good job fit may become more relaxed as a sense of quiet desperation may set in. Also, our sense of our own value may become diminished.

You cannot let your desperation to find a job force you to make a bad career choice with a firm that is not a fit with your values, skills, and work habits. I have a friend who just went thought this process. He lasted at his new position for two weeks. He said it wasn't necessarily a bad place to work, it just wasn't for him. His employers were not totally without blame in the mismatch. They did what many employers do: they sold a job that the candidate wanted - which as it turned out, was not the actual job.

If a prospective employer is not inclined to come clean about the job, what can a candidate do to increase the chances of making a good match?

First, ask the prospective employer to speak to a couple of their vendors. These could include the office supply or printing firm, the folks who clean the offices, or even sub-consultants that the firm works with. Get a third party's opinion on what it's like to work for the firm. Second, ask to speak with clients - find out what the firm is like as a vendor of services. When you speak to the clients that the firm suggests, ask them if they can give you the names of other clients that the firm didn't mention - you might get a different opinion. Third, ask to speak with some former employees of the firm. If you get pushback on any of these requests or if the firm grants your request and you don't get the feedback you are looking for, you should treat it as a red flag and re-evaluate whether or not you should work with this firm.

Good luck!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Something close to this happend a few years back to me. I don't think I was sold a job I wanted I think in thier hearts they really wanted the job to be just that but it just was not meant to be.

Sometimes you don't know it isn't a match until you get there. The problem I had was not trusting my own gut. I new 2 weeks into it but I didn't leave and they probably new the same and didn't let me go. This is were the true breaking point was.

If after 3 months you still know and or they still know there isn't a fit say something... someone should do something! And I don't mean "promote" or "transition" someone becuase they are not a right fit but they just don't have the guts to say it.

I'm equally upset with myself for not trusting my "gut" and probably not doing a great job because I could see there was not a match. The only blessing is I took whatever I could learn from the situation and it resulted in a better career change. But this only when I accepted that I'm a good employee, they are a good firm, it just wasn't a good match.

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