These days, job seekers face not one but two equally difficult challenges. Not only do they have to find a decent job, but they have to find a decent employer, as well. A decent job may remove them from the ranks of the unemployed, but only a decent employer can ensure they stay there.
For the first time in modern American history, those in transition now have to worry about serial unemployment. They must endure a grueling and often lengthy job search, and then they have to deal with the ever present possibility that they may lose their job 6, 12 or 18 months down the road. No sooner are they employed, it seems, than they face the prospect of becoming unemployed all over again.
There are, of course, a range of reasons for this phenomenon. The lousy economy, changing consumer tastes, and the introduction of new technology certainly deserve some of the blame. In far too many cases, however, there's another cause. It's employers behaving badly.
What does that mean?
Bad employer behavior includes misrepresenting the nature of a job - the tasks it involves or its compensation - and/or the nature of the organization - its culture, values and leadership. The former is rare because it can only occur if recruiters and other employees are complicit in the cover-up and thankfully few are willing to do so. The latter, on the other hand, occurs far more frequently than it should primarily because the warning signs are overlooked or, worse, ignored.
Shopping for a Decent Employer
A decent employer is one that provides the environment, encouragement and support for you to succeed. In short, it's an organization that respects you as a person of talent. It recognizes the contribution you make to its success and treats you accordingly. As a consequence, you are able to perform at your peak, and that outcome - excelling at your work - is the best guarantor of continued employment.
Respect, however, is a two-way street. Yes, an employer should respect you, but you must also respect yourself. You must think enough of your talent to ensure you can always deliver it on-the-job. You must constantly refresh your skills and knowledge so that your talent is as strong, versatile and durable as it can be and must be in today's highly competitive global economy.
With self-respect in place, you are in the right position to evaluate the level of respect you would get from prospective employers. How do you make that judgment? Look for telltale signs in the recruiting process of each organization.
Admittedly, it's hard to ignore the allure of a job offer when you're in transition and have financial and other pressures weighing you down. Taking a job - even a good job - with a bad employer, however, can not only undermine your performance on-the-job, it can quickly throw you back out on the bricks looking for work once again.
Reprinted with permission from WEDDLE’s LLC. Peter Weddle is the author or editor of more than two dozen books, including "The Career Activist Republic, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System," and WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Order them at Amazon.com.