Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Being a Career Free Agent: Employer and Industry Red Flags to Watch For

Part 3 of 6: The Free Agent Outlook on Work: watch your company and industry.

Complacency, ennui, boredom, apathy – whatever you want to call it – is your career enemy. Get out your compass and decide where you’re going next – preferably a career that will keep you interested.

Now doesn’t seem the best time to quit your job, but it is a good time to think ahead about your next job or career change. Watching your employer and being knowledgeable about your industry trends will come naturally if you are satisfied with your career path. If you’re laid off, you’ll still need to evaluate your career situation. For tips on doing that, visit our article on Career Change.

Here are some red flags to watch and prepare for, even in a recession:
  • large technology changes in your industry
  • reorganizations and significant changes in upper management
  • business owner or boss close to retirement
  • new or changing government regulation of your industry
  • changes in your industry’s overall business model – does your employer’s revenue now depend solely on online advertising? Selling municipal bonds?
  • company culture that tolerates unethical or inappropriate employee behavior (including managers). Forget what the employee handbook says, are people “walking the walk” or just talking?
  • poor management of the company - bad investment decisions, failure to adapt to changing market conditions...
Although it may take awhile, poor management will filter down to your level. When bad managers run the company, including those who may be “nice” but tolerate poor performance, the company’s business suffers. They do not adapt to change, they make poor layoff choices, etc. You don’t want to be working there for long.

You may think to yourself, how do I get all this “inside” information? People, people, people. Not everything your coworkers tell you may be true (intentionally or unintentionally), but it doesn't hurt to chat up your friendly tech support person, your friend in finance, or attend and ask around at your next networking event. Are good employees or managers leaving your employer? If you can, find out why. You’d be surprised what you can learn when you’re paying attention.

Next Free Agent Principle: do your job well. Seems pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised...Stay tuned.

For the previous posts for this 6 part series see:
The 6 Principles of the Free Agent Worker
Principle #1: Know and Strengthen Your Marketable Skills
Principle #2: Stay Mobile

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