Does anyone knowingly plan to carry the baggage of a less than admirable reputation? I think not, but here are some true examples of how candidates may create their own demise.
Multiple Job Offers – Not long ago an Engineering Director accepted a local position culminating a long, difficult interviewing and decision-making process. Following a grueling job search he made the finals with two different companies. Both were outstanding opportunities, but the first job offer came from his second choice. He bought a long weekend to discuss the offer with the family while he went to his first choice and let them know he would only be available for a limited time. They would not commit. He accepted the offer he had on the table. Thirty days later his first choice company finally extended their offer. Giving his new employer of only 30 days two-weeks notice, he accepted the second offer. Six months later he was downsized and made sure his disappointment was noted. The results? Two local employers and two recruiters were privy to the questionable loyalty of one Director. Word had also spread quickly to his direct reports. Not a position of strength from which to again job hunt.
Day to Day Workplace Politics – Are you a team player? If not word may spread. Do you take exclusive credit for the work of your colleagues or verbally reprimand a subordinate in the presence of others? The extreme popularity of the television show Survivor demonstrates how calculated use and abuse sometimes results in victory and how we live in the midst of manipulation. However in the real world, negative behavior toward folks who don’t seem to make a difference in your career advancement may leave you with a scar nearly impossible to overcome. One small comment from a past jilted colleague in the company from which you seeking an offer may kill the deal that you work so hard to negotiate. Employers face too much risk to make a hiring mistake and will listen to the least whisper of negativity.
Unhappy Endings – We know not to burn bridges but sometimes, when we believe we have not been treated fairly, it is tempting to leave a bad situation abruptly rather than with consideration and a pleasant face. Employers talk to each other, and remember your resume is in the hands of the company you are about to leave. Employers know where you’ve worked in the past. We teach our clients to recommend their replacements if possible and then offer to train them. Professionals are either remembered for their lack of respect or their willingness to go beyond the call of duty before they exit.
In the world of networking, it’s not just who you know, it’s who knows you. One large, local company includes an introduction to an entire department as part of the final interview. As we ascend in our careers we are likely to become known to an increased number of people, and while we need to be honest, ethical and pleasant on principle, we need to be aware that those we’ve met on our way up the ladder may indeed be the reason we can no longer continue the climb.
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