Archive for February, 2008


Like many of the lessons in Career Secret Sauce, there are certain pitfalls to changing jobs that should be avoided for your sanity and wellbeing. As bizarre as these ideas may sound to you today, you may actually find yourself believing they’re viable options one day when your back is up against the wall.  


Double Dipping: I’m sure for many of you this may sound like a nutty idea, but it happens more often than you think. In today’s workplace, where more and more employers are offering work at home flexibility, it is becoming possible for people to start a new job while still collecting a paycheck from their old employer. I have seen it happen multiple times in the last decade. Usually, it’s just for a limited period of time. Someone accepts the new job without resigning from the old one. They continue to “work at home” at their old job after they start their new job through the wonders of email, Blackberries, and cell phones. Then after a week or two on the new job they eventually resign, give two weeks’ notice and effectively double dip for over a month. I have also seen the case where a remote salesman who had no physical office actually attempted to do this for an extended period of time, working for a competitor no less. Eventually he was caught and when the original employer contacted the competitor to confirm the deceit, he ended up being fired from both jobs.

Changing Your Mind While Resigning: More often than not, your current boss’s first reaction to your resignation will be to you convince you to stay. Losing employees is viewed as a managerial weakness and no one wants that black mark on their record. Also, there is a certain “badge of honor” that goes to a manager who is able to turn someone around. If they ask and you leave the door open – even a crack – you will be subjecting yourself to even more anguish. Also, know that if you do acquiesce and stay, you’re position is likely to be marginalized in the future. You will never be fully trusted again, new responsibilities will be given to others, and over time you may find yourself becoming expendable. That’s why you have to be sure you’re doing the right thing before you resign.

Running Home to Mama: There are a few recurring dreams (nightmares) that multiple people report having. The most common are flying, falling, standing in a room full of people naked, or being back in school taking a test that you never studied for. I have had all of these. There is another one that comes back to me even today and that’s the dream where I’ve gone back to work for a company I left years ago. At first it’s fun, then I start to worry my current job and eventually I remember all the reasons why I left the old place and wake up in a cold sweat. Perhaps this sounds farfetched, but I can tell you from reading thousands of resumes that this happens more often than you think. People take a new job, don’t like it, and 6 months to a year later call up their old boss and go back. It may feel like the right thing to do, but it is the professional equivalent of moving back home to live in your parent’s basement. A double tenure on your resume will speak volumes about your inner make up. Sure it’s possible to make a bad move and find yourself in a new job you hate, but returning to you old job, rather than finding another just looks weak. If you’re thinking about making this move, consider it your last career change. You will most likely end up staying with your old employer for life.


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Catch a Rising Star


Developing a pool of headhunters or leaning on colleagues are great techniques for finding a new opportunity, but they don’t compare with following someone you know, who is a rising star, into a new company.

Getting a new job this way bears little similarity to other job search techniques. The interview process is pure joy. You don’t have to sell yourself; You’re both simply “assessing the fit.” If you’re hired, you’re immediately in the middle of the action and you just get deeper with each successive day. Most importantly, you have an incredible sense of job security because you know that as long as the star you’re attached too continues to shine and you do your job, you’ll always be employed.

Unfortunately, picking a true star that will shine on for decades is not as easy as it sounds. First, you have to start the process long before you start thinking about a new job. Also, people in high places are not always rising stars; They may be slowly falling, or not necessarily the people of deep integrity or loyalty you thought they were. Recognizing a fast moving peer as a potential long term star is also a crap shoot. They may be moving fast because they’re stepping on people along the way, they’re heavily into politics, or they’re simply cutting corners. People like this can drag you down as easily as they can help you along.

Befriend With Caution

Over the years I developed a rough template for the kind of people you should associate with when you enter a new job. This template also serves as a screen to separate true rising stars from imposters. Essentially there are five character traits to look out for when selecting a rising star:
1.      Well Connected
2.      On The Move
3.      Apolitical
4.      Experienced
5.      Broadly Appreciated

Of course this will only tell you if they are a rising star, not necessarily your rising star. In order for someone with all these traits to be your rising star, they must also believe in you. You must bring something to their team that they value deeply. If you find this person and have this kind of relationship, you will never have to worry about locating new job opportunities.

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