Chances are that you or someone that you know has been impacted by the recent economic upheaval of the past few years. Companies have downsized, closed plants, relocated, moved operations off-shore and even outsourced or automated many jobs. These were themes that played out across the country and continue to have a ripple effect even in our business of talent acquisition and recruiting. The fact that in many cases numbers of employees were laid off at the same time gave some comfort to those being laid off, not my fault, it’s the economy.
When we speak to candidates that have had this experience the vast majority still express surprise that they were part of a group that was laid off. Not surprised that the lay off occurred, but that they were part of the group. We also talk to many candidates whose work history shows one or more instance of being passed over for promotion, being demoted or being asked to leave for lack of performance. They too express surprise that it happened to them. None of them saw any indication or noticed the signs of trouble or at least they are not willing to admit to it.
Granted, if a company decides to relocate its operation, decides to eliminate a line of business or simply goes out of business for whatever reason, an employee’s job performance or lack thereof did not make this happen. However, if an employee is laid off and his/her position still exists, that employee should have seen the lay off coming, could possibly have prevented it from happening, or at the very least, left before it did happen.
In his best selling book, Intellectual Capital, author Thomas Stewart offers seven questions that every employee should always be asking themselves no matter what position they hold in the company. Here are Stewart’s Seven Signs of Trouble.
- Are you learning? If you can’t say what you have learned in the past six months, nor what you expect to learn in the next six months then you are in trouble. When there is nothing you can learn where you are, you’ve got to move on. If your job has become easy, someone will come in and do it for less.
- If your job were open, would you get it? Benchmark your skills regularly. Research postings for jobs in your field, with your company’s competitors. What skills are required, what skills are desirable? Do you have them? If not get them.
- Are you being milked? If your company is keeping you from broadening your skills and experience under the pretext that you are the only one who can do a certain type of job for the company, then you are being taken advantage of, being milked for your intellectual capital. If you are being held back from advancing with your company, begin looking elsewhere.
- Do you know what you contribute? If you can’t give anyone a two minute summary of what you do and why it matters, chances are that your boss can’t either.
- What would you do if your job disappeared tomorrow? If you can’t answer this question, you haven’t thought about the marketable skills that you have. More and more you have to sell yourself inside your company.
- Are you having Fun? If your work isn’t fun then you won’t be up for new challenges. Get your heart into your work. Make it fun.
- Are you worried about your job? If you are, you probably should be.
Did any of these questions click with you? We plan to use these questions in some form or other when we screen and interview our candidates for our clients. We will also encourage our candidates to continue to ask themselves these questions throughout their careers. We don’t want them to be surprised and run into trouble on their career highway.
Also watch out for that sign that says Slow Men At Work, you don’t want to be one of them.