I read with interest a recent article from Dear Abby (May 4, 2010). A man writes that on the first day of his wife’s work, she was called into the human resources director’s office and told she was being “let go” because of her Web site. The site had photos of her when she worked as a model at a department store. He stated that the pictures were not provacative and that photos of their children were also on the site. The HR director told the wife that one of the (internal) applicants had seen the site and made a complaint over one image, which led to the wife’s termination. They consulted an attorney, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and were told that they lived in an “at will” state, which entitled the employer to fire the employee without fault.
The response was that if you live in at “at will” state, employers can fire you for any reason, unless there is a written contract, or for illegal reasons, such as age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. The employer was found not at fault in this situation. I hope this is a “wake-up call” for all of you who post pictures of yourself drinking or in other compromising situations, as well as the words you post. Employers are looking at these social networking sites to see the quality of employee; this is their way to ‘weed out’ the numerous applicants they have. This kind of tactic stinks, frankly, but that is the current state in the world of work.
If you are having difficulty at your workplace and feel angry and stressed, it may not be due to the amount of work you are doing or your hours. It may actually be the result of your personal values not aligning with your work environment. I see it over and over again, as I work with clients who come in unhappy and wanting to leaver their jobs; at times, they are worried that they might lose their jobs and feel as if they are being targeted by their boss. Their stories can read like a bad novel: “I’m doing all the work and XXX can come in late when they want”; they want to have parties when we should be working”, and “my boss never talks to me but he does to my co-workers.” These behaviors occur on a daily basis in every organization across America.
While the resulting emotional feelings are real for my clients, they are looking for relief and a way to cope and survive until they find a new job. They don’t have any idea about what they are looking for in their next position – they just know they want out! Upon further assessment, it appears that they don’t really dislike their job but that their personal values are keeping them in total-work mode, i.e. minding those policies & procedures, but yet it makes them seem unegaged and standoffish to their boss and their coworkers. This high value orientation, while admirable, keeps them mired in their own values and not necessarily the values of their work team or their organization. Theses clients don’t like to “play” politics but that is what is exactly what is needed in order to survive. I personally do not like to play office politics but recognize that we have to; however, there are times when we need to play the political game while keeping our integrity and our values.
If this sounds like your struggles, you need to acknowledge and accept that you have high values and morals, which are exceptional qualities to have. Observe yourself – are your values too high that you come across as standoffish or superior? Do you act defensive with your boss or coworkers, seeming oppositional? You can learn to work with your values by being more open and making the decision to “own” your job and be the best you can. You can learn to be more open and friendly while maintaining your integrity. You have the choice – what will it be?
I see it time and time again. Job seekers who short-change themselves on their skills and talents that prevents them from being successful in their job search. These individuals only know what they know; they only see themselves in the job role they left; other times they don’t really feel that they have any real knowledge or skills that would be valuable to an employer. This small-minded thinking keeps them small in their job search, leaving them feeling lost and frustrated that they are not getting any results.
What leads to this mental block? Several factors could be in play, such as low self-esteem, inability to see “the big picture” or not wanting to boast or brag. How can you tell if you are short-changing yourself in your job search? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have difficulty listing your skills, values, or past accomplishments?
- Is it difficult for you to link your past job experiences with a current job path?
- Do you leave out certain skill sets or talents when asked to, either because they seem too minor to too large?
- Can you not visualize yourself in a job or career path?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you have just shot down any chance you having of finding a job. You must be able to answer these questions to know exactly what benefit you will bring to any employer and help you become more focused in your job search. It is imperative that you have a very clear picture of what skills and talents you possess and then be able to convey them, both in writing and through networking, so that you create interest and desire by potential employers. Taking the time to answer them will help you become clearer and confident and streamline your job-search efforts.