Some people never really leave high school. Even as adults you will still find them hanging out and spreading the latest gossip. The problem is that no matter how they go about it, a workplace gossip is killing their own career. It’s one thing to spend a few minutes chatting about the latest ball scores or last night’s, “Castle” episode, or to discuss the co-worker who has just returned from maternity leave, in a positive manner. It’s quite another to be dishing the dirt on anyone or anything at work.
No one really trusts a gossip. If you pay attention, you will see that their careers are going nowhere fast. What does this have to do with you as you are hunting for a new job? The best resume and cover letter in the world isn’t going to change what your boss has to say about you when he or she is called. If you think that your boss either doesn’t know you are a gossip or isn’t going to say anything about it, you’re wrong. Your boss will mention it and it will hurt your chances at a new company.
Gossips are rarely liked and it’s even more rare that they are trusted with sensitive material. More importantly, being a workplace gossip means you have two character traits that employers loathe; you have the potential to cause discord and you waste time. Gossip often harms people and relationships. This is bad for the work environment. An employer needs people who work well together and a gossip can often bring out the worst in people, not the best. The wasting time issue is self-explanatory. You are being hired to do a job, not talk about people.
So what do you do if you have been the go-to person for the latest dirt? Knock it off now. A few weeks and people will forget all about your past as the ultimate gossip.
A common question asked during an interview is “Why Did You Leave Your Last Position?” A friend of mine who worked in Iran during the 1979 revolution offers an easy answer: his resume always says “civil unrest.” While that is a concrete and completely honest answer, most of us don’t usually have such a perfect answer when asked that question during an interview. Futhermore, the answer can be even more difficult if you are still in your current position and interviewing for a new position at another company.
If the questions “Why did you leave your last position?” or “Why do you want to leave your current position?” come up during an interview (and they will), your answers should be brief and honest. Simply stating that you are looking to advance your career or enhance your skill set are easy answers. You want to talk about using your skills, especially new ones you might have acquired through additional education or on-the-job training. You could also mention that you are looking for a position with more advancement opportunities and responsibilities.
What if the reason you are leaving is because of harassment, horrible policies, downsizing, or that your last boss was a complete jerk? Pretend it never happened. Under absolutely no circumstances are you to mention anything negative about you supervisor, your company, or anyone you have ever worked with. There is no possible way to complain without looking bad to the interviewer, so avoid it at all costs. If for some reason the interviewer knows that there was a situation at your last job, answer his questions truthfully, without giving a lot of detail, and direct the focus of the interview back to your qualifications for the job he is interviewing you for.
When interviewing, you want to leave the impression that you are ambitious, hardworking, and the best candidate for the job. Before you interview, take the time to rehearse concrete answers as to why you’re looking for a new job and how your skills, experience, and work ethic make you the best candidate.
Problems arise when you have to decide how to let go of an employee who has become your friend. This is not a pretty situation by any means, because it may end up costing you a friendship that you would like to keep.
If you are in a management or leadership position, there will come a time when you will have to let go of an employee who has become your friend. And it stinks… no getting around it. You will have to develop a thick ‘outer shell’ for the experience, which you may not like. However, by using some guidelines, the process will hopefully be easier on you—and possibly the employee as well. With a little luck, you may be able to save the friendship.
Take the employee/friend off into a room where you cannot be interrupted, and stay calm. Offer a drink (preferably alcoholic, but since you are at work, you probably shouldn’t), and sit down. Do not take a drink for yourself—your hands will be occupied, but the drink will give them something to occupy their hands.
Explain that the two of you need to have a talk, and bring out any documentation, such as performance reviews, that you may have to back you up. When the friend/employee hears the words “we need to have a talk,” be prepared for them to automatically become defensive.
In my opinion, workplace relationships should consist of regular reviews—whether they are quarterly, annually or based on a different time period, it doesn’t matter. Using these reviews as a method to help back you up when having to let your friend go makes the process easier—you have documentation. Reviews are summaries of an employee’s performance, and if done properly, will help you when if it is time to let go of the employee/friend. Pay increases, behavior issues, as well as timeliness, and a variety of other things.
When it comes time to actually let go of an employee who has become a friend from their job, you will have to have a good reason why. Don’t come up with an excuse—be truthful.
If there are too many employees on the payroll, and your friend happens to be one of the newest ones, and budget cuts are happening, it’s just a fact of life. They must go. Serious behavior issues are a simple (but uncomfortable) reason to get rid of your friend. For example, has it been proven that this person sexually harassed another employee? That can bring on a lawsuit that you don’t want, so be careful.
Be fair though, and listen to the employee/friend’s objections. If they offer a solution to the situation that you had not considered, tell them you will take it under advisement. Then think about it for a specific amount of time. If it still doesn’t work for you, the firing stands.
During the process of letting the employee go, above all stay calm. Don’t yell, but be firm and truthful. Make sure that you empathize with them. Letting go of an employee that has become your friend is not easy, but sometimes necessary.
Almost everyone is faced with the prospect of leaving their job at some point. Whether you have decided to move, change fields, accepted a better offer, or just wanted to quit, the very idea of offering your ‘two weeks’ notice’ can drive fear into the most forthright employee. Even worse, many employees do not know the various options they have for leaving a job – especially when you leave for another, more lucrative, position. Deciding how much notice you should give when leaving a job is anything but easy.
Before even considering the alternative options available for leaving a job, you must first perform your due diligence. In some cases, an employment contract may exist which specifically details the conditions under which you are allowed to leave your position. These terms must be followed exactly. This information is typically easy to find. If you did not retain a copy of your employment agreement yourself and do not wish to tip off your employer that you may be leaving, you are entitled to a review of your employment file and can easily locate the information.
Next, you must consider the nature of your job. Those in unique positions that may be hard to fill or those in management positions may need to consider giving some additional notice. In some instances it can be helpful to discuss your move with a manager to determine what their expectations are. The general rule of thumb is two weeks and most employees tend to stick with these guidelines.
Unfortunately, in some cases it may be necessary to leave with less than the typical two week notice. This is especially true when an employee that is leaving to pursue another position which they need to start soon. While an employee has the ability to leave their current job immediately, unless otherwise prohibited, it is often not suggested. When determining how quickly you can leave your current position, always remember the old adage: Don’t burn your bridges. In the employment world, many times specific industries are very small and it is easy to get a bad reputation – especially if you leave a position with little or no warning to your employers.
Or, in other cases, the employer may ask you to leave immediately. This happened to me. Twice. In both cases, the reasons had to do with the competition and clients (even though I wasn’t going to a competitor either time). When that happens, you have no choice but to leave. I didn’t mind. That meant some much needed time off before the next job.
Like many facets of employment, how you handle your departure from a current position says a lot about you as a person. By handling an exit with grace and professionalism, you can easily begin to establish yourself as an employee with integrity. It is important to handle every aspect of your departure in a professional manner. From letters of resignation to the goodbye lunch, behaving in a professional way will make you stand out.
Knowing how much time to give your current employer is a complex issue. It is one that is best handled by following the guidelines set forth in your employment contract. If one does not exist, be sure to approach the issue professionally and to work as closely as possible to ensure a smooth transition.