I wrote about the Ladders Resume Critiques in 2008 in this blog here. It outlines what is was like to work for them as a commissioned salesperson. Since then, there have been numerous complaints about the Ladders.com all over the web. But have they changed? Tell me your experience, good or bad.
October 16 through October 22 is Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week, sponsored by the Workplace Bullying Institute. Thank God this organization exists. Someone needed to shed light on this growing problem in the USA, especially in this economy. Why? Because I’ve seen so many hard working and talented people who are unemployed, while a Workplace Bully gets to keep his job. Or I see people stay in jobs and take the abuse, out of fear they won’t find another. And in my opinion, that’s wrong on so many levels.
I’m reading a book this week on employee engagement and how to motivate employees to love working for you. Throughout my career I have worked for some wonderful companies, one of them was Buck Owens Broadcasting, another was America West Airlines. Both of these organizations understood that praise and reward are much better motivators in the workplace, than fear and punishment. Tyranny builds resentment and erodes loyalty and commitment. Sad to say, not all managers understand that. These are the people who feel the need to watch their employees every move to find fault so they can “start a file” on them. Any positive performance is either said privately (if at all) or awarded in writing to the entire team on a job “well done.” But none that is documented in your personnel file.
When I worked for KNIX in Phoenix, we had lavish holiday parties, quarterly get-togethers (with lots of free alcohol), and a gym on the premises. Buck and his sons wanted us to be happy employees. And we were! Ratings and revenues soared and we broke all kinds of company records. There was so much love in that building, you could just feel it.
It wasn’t like that at a few of my other radio jobs. At one place, the management promised listeners meet and greet parties with the announcers, but then didn’t include the air staff. Instead, the managers brought their spouses, leaving listeners to wonder who are these people, and the deejays feeling slighted. The environment in that building was stifling; and workers were always complaining and resentful. That in turn made the manager even more paranoid, turning the place into one giant viper pit, and worker against co-worker. Then with all the rudeness going on, there were additional opportunities for the manager to write up the employees. It was hell.
I forgot about these experiences until I started reading Finding Happiness, by Todd Patkin. In Chapter 12: titled “Treat Them Like Kings,” Patkin outlines why it’s in every managers best interest to treat their employees well, rather than reprimand and criticize them at every turn.
From my experience, Patkin is right. I am a firm believer that a fish rots from the head first.
When you apply for a job, there’s a good bet your former employers are going to get a call about you. What they say, or don’t say, could keep you from your next job. And yet, many times when I’m helping people in their search, I hear the horror stories of crappy management, bad bosses, corrupt employers, and unsafe workplaces as for why people are seeking to get the heck out. I’ve experienced it myself.
After nearly 10 years as a Professional Resume Writer I’ve heard the horror stories of clients who worked for bad bosses. These folks were good at their jobs but were sabotaged by tyrants, ego-maniacs, yes men…. I’ve heard it all. So how do you diplomatically answer the question in a job interview, “Tell me about your last supervisor?” You don’t want to lie, but then again if you tell the down and dirty truth you could also hurt your chances at a new job. I’ve put together a list of responses you can use at your own risk, along with translations.
1. “She has a colorful personality” really means she flies off the handle and has mood swings.
2. “He valued everyone’s opinion” translates to “he tells his boss you don’t agree with upper management’s decisions”
3. “He’s great with Crisis Communications.” He’s really good at burying dirt so it doesn’t end up in the newspapers.
4. “He’s decisive.” That means he makes a decision and even if it’s a bad one, won’t change his mind or admit he made a bad judgment call leaving the staff and customers to suffer with the results.
5. “She’s very hands-on.” A micro-manager who insists you do everything her way.
6. “Open to Change.” Couldn’t make a decision and kept changing the ways things were done throwing everyone off kilter.
7. “Really Smart.” That’s a sneaky bastard who knows how to manipulate people.
8. “A very agreeable individual.” He talks out of both sides of his mouth, and tells everyone what they want to hear.
See how easy that is? Let the interviewer assume you’re saying good things about your last job, when you know the whole truth. When it comes to the question of “why did you leave your last job?” Here’s a few vague responses.
1. “Not a Good Job Fit” means the boss wanted you to perform tasks that you didn’t agree with and that caused a moral dilemma for you. (i.e. sexual favors, lying to customers, etc.)
2. “Challenging Environment” means the place was a snakepit.
3. “There was no room to move up.” You weren’t in the clique.
4. “The economy caused a slowdown in business.” Well, this is true for most job seekers right now so it doesn’t have to translate into anything.
The bottom line is to choose your words carefully. You don’t have to be explicitly honest. You don’t have to lie either.
Last year while reading the daily e-list from Career Directors International, I came across a new philosophy from CDI’s President, Laura DeCarlo. Laura plans to include it a soon to be published career management book. In it, she shares this piece of valuable advice on how to survive a hostile work environment while searching for a new job.
Laura says, “practice turtilism”…be the turtle.” In other words, stop sticking your neck out asking for more work and trying to make a good and visible impression, which might intimidate and frustrate the good old boy’s club network within your company’s management. Instead, tuck in close – head down, do the work necessary to the best degree possible, and try to become invisible (just a shell, not worth noticing, undermining, or attacking) until the day you can tender your resignation with a new job waiting in the wings.
When the writing is on the wall that you’re unappreciated, and you no longer love your job, then you should consider becoming the turtle. Laura does note that “turtle mimicry will NOT help you survive a fire in the workplace; it will also not help you successfully avoid a confrontation with a boss who is at this very moment yelling at you for reading her book (or this blog) at your desk during work hours.”
But be careful. Turtle mimicry can be habit forming and lead to invisibility, lowered job satisfaction, lack of growth, and career stagnation. Only practice it when you need to temporarily remove yourself as a moving target from an employer’s radar while you seek a better, safer, and more fulfilling job match. Turtilism will help get you by but it will not help you fly unless you take additional, more aggressive steps to find a new environment that doesn’t make you want to crawl inside your shell and hide.
Use turtilism as a last resort and you need to hang in there just a little bit longer!
–Susan Geary, 1st Rate Resumes