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5 Warnings Your Career Is Off Track

Aug 17, 2007
You may be breezing along in your current position, when suddenly trouble starts brewing and your career is knocked off-track. There are ample signals that warn you beforehand, if you pick them up. Most people who are either stuck in the wrong jobs or suffering a job loss are mostly there because they failed to recognize the signals before it was too late. To tell the truth, a good number of them later realize that the trouble they are in is of their own making.

How do you know when your career is in trouble or at least off track? One needs to pay attention to certain signs. Here are 5 warning signals that will alert you.

5 Signals That Alert You When Your Career Is Off Track

Warning # 1

Sudden depression and economic downturn. Although a rarity, economic downturns can be a strong signal for you, especially when you are in such industries as telecommunications, travel, hospitality, etc. Although the economy affects other sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, etc. equally, mass layoffs are limited unlike in other sectors. The reason is clear; consumers shun the market at times of trouble, which they can't do with same vigor with the latter sectors, which fulfill customer needs. This was seen during the depression of the 1920s, post lunar exploration of 1964, and recently after 9/11 fallout.

Warning # 2

Your industry is passing through a lull. The best example that fits here is that of telecommunications and software engineering following the 9/11 fallout. First, WorldCom's fortunes dwindled and the company went into a total tizzy. A few top executives were not available while the situation went from bad to worse. Whatever the reason could be, the industry as a whole suffered instead of gaining from the loss of one big player by default. Job losses were to the tune of tens of thousands. Those who saw the signs and sensed what was coming very early took advantage of whatever opportunities they could.

Warning # 3

The company's finances are dwindling. Although not everyone is directly connected to finance management, it inadvertently affects everyone. Bad management, lost or declining sales and poor quality of service are a few things that result in a financial emergency. This state of affairs, albeit slow, should not be missed. Important signals like a sudden drop in workload, a blanket application of cost cutting measures, sudden concern over petty costs and firing of sales managers see alert employees chalking out their future steps.

Warning # 4

Mergers and acquisitions are no less dreadful as far as employees are concerned. When two corporations merge, management looks forward to consolidate the benefits by downsizing any overlapping resources. Intelligently, employees must look for signals like changes in the top executives, big promises by management, rhetoric on upholding shareholder values, etc. The effects of this spread quickly.

Warning # 5

Other signals like ignoring you for activities (meetings etc) that previously required your attendance, a sudden increase in work pressure, ignoring your suggestions & job performance and dampened appreciation for your accomplishments show that you have fallen out of your bosses (or at least the company's) favor. Your salary increments and bonuses become pale shadows of their former selves.

Once you sense the signals, you need to pay attention to them instead of just brushing them aside. Start planning you next steps immediately to avoid being caught off-guard. The company is doing what is right for them. Protect your career and do what is right for you.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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