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Don't Transfer Your Soul (or Your Talent)

Taking a job offer from an employer you barely know is like ignoring the terms and conditions vendors impose when you make an online purchase ... only worse. If a product is defective, you can usually return it. When an employer turns out to be bad, however, there is no such recourse. And, the harm can be long lasting.

For April Fool's Day in 2010, the online retailer Gamestation changed its terms and conditions to include an "immortal soul clause." It read, By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 anno Domini, you agree to grant us a non-transferable option to claim, for now and forever more, your immortal soul.

As you might have suspected, 88 percent of those who made a purchase that day, blithely clicked the "I read it box" and got on with their purchase. They were sold on the product, but ended up soulless.

What's that prove for job seekers? The devil is in the details.

It's no secret that job seekers are in a rush. No one wants to extend their job search one second longer than they have to. But failing to check the details about an employer can have consequences, and all too often, those consequences can hurt for a very long time.

Choosing Your Devil

A job search is often a choice between devils. You have to select between the devil you know and the ones you don't.

Now, most job seekers assume that any devil is better than the one they endure in transition. What could be worse than the frustration, the despair, the anxiety of being unemployed? Even a lousy job provides a paycheck.

So, let's be clear about what I mean by the devil you don't know. It includes two kinds of organizations:

  • The first are mismanaged and abusive employers. They are generally easy to spot and avoided by just about everyone.

  • The second are employers that make you feel uncomfortable or out-of-place. Their culture, values and vision don't align with your personality, values and goals.

That second mismatch is not as easy to recognize from the outside, so many of us end up going to work for just such a devil. And, when we do, we set ourselves up for both serial unemployment and serious unhappiness.

Serial Unemployment
When you're working for the wrong employer, you can't do your best work. And, in these dog-eat-dog times, substandard work makes you vulnerable for a pink slip. The next time your employer decides to cut staff, you're likely to be at the top of the list.

Serious Unhappiness
While you're slaving away for the wrong employer, you aren't looking for the right one. And, it's only when you're employed by the right organization that you can excel on-the-job and thereby increase both the paycheck and the satisfaction you bring home from your work.

So, protect yourself. Take the time and make the effort to research the culture, leadership style, HR policies and practices and reputation of any organization you're considering as an employer. As a minimum, visit each organization's Web-site to see what it says about its vision and values and do a browser search of what others are saying about the organization. Those factors represent the terms and conditions of the work experience it offers. And, if they prevent you from excelling at your work, they are in effect taking away your immortal soul.

Thanks for reading,
Peter

Visit my blog at Weddles.com/WorkStrong.

February 2012
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