CAREERTRENDZ – The warning signs

It is best to be watchful of signs that tip you off about possible changes in your career graph.
To read between the lines or watch out for warning signs are not skills that many of us work at. But this skill can spare us many moments of agony and indecision and help us to plan our future better. Unfortunately, many people have trouble reading the signs — especially the career warning signs.

A career warning sign is anything that indicates a possible career shift, especially if it results in your finding a place amongst the unemployed. On the other hand, these signs can also prepare you for a promotion or increased responsibilities. The signs may vary with an industry or situational context, there are five broad signals that can apply to most employment scenarios: Industry status Is your industry experiencing a downturn or a boomtime? The cyber industry is a perfect example to cite, where the dotcom bust took many a good career out of the reckoning. A few years ago, the Internet was one of the fastest growing industries. The first negative signs were the unmet earning expectations. Those who paid attention left the industry. “I was in charge of the content in a dotcom and I noticed that there was an imbalance in their strategy of gaining eyeballs. The money being spent on adver tising was huge but in contrast there was no attention paid to maintaining the quality of the content. It did not make much business sense to me. So, I picked the courage to move out of the company and within four months it shut down,” recalls Supriya Shah.

People who practice career management watch the growth trends within their industry and know when to leave and when to stay on. Revenue flow Are sales down in your company? Are they plateauing; or risinsg consistently? While not everyone within an organisation is involved with sales, all jobs are affected by it. When revenues decrease, profits are held steady by cutting costs which often means cutting jobs. Increased revenue might mean the company is embarking on expansion plans. Thus people can protect themselves by paying attention to sales levels within their organisation.

While not all employees are allowed access to sales numbers, there can be ways of extracting this financial information. Public sector companies anyway publish their balance sheets. It pays to take out the time to study these documents. Employees of non-public companies, can likewise read warning signs in decreased sales; work load decline; a boss suddenly seeming very concerned over rising costs; a sales manager getting fired or the entire sales department being reorganised. Reversely, in case of increased sales, there would be a spree of fresh recruitments, new strategies and new markets.

Drastic management changes Be forewarned when an entire management set-up changes. It marks time to explore external options — even the smallest management change can affect your corporate position. Be extra vigilant during mergers and acquisitions, a string of short-term management tenures (i.e. three bosses in two years), abrupt retirement or replacement of senior management.

Wise employees listen closely to new management rhetoric. How dramatic are their promises to the shareholders? What is their corporate policy? What has been the track record of the top cadre in their previous jobs? Answering these questions will help you plan your career strategy within a company. The boss factor You have a new boss. What is his or her track record? Does he/she have the reputation of a reactionary, axe-swinging job cutter, or that of a strategic long-term planner who would consider employee reduction only as a last resort? Does he or she encourage innovation and foster new ideas or is he/she a despot of the worst order?

“Our department was forewarned about some top cadre changes and we were told that we would be getting a new boss. So we called up a few people who had worked with him earlier so when he finally came in, we knew exactly what we were getting into,” says Sneha Radhakrishnan, who works for a BPO. Firing range While ‘gut feelings’ are often the first warning signs, some objective indications can also put your antennas up, such as a less-than-exemplary performance review; no performance-based salary increase; a smaller year-end bonus; not being asked to venture your input at planning meetings or your suggestions getting completely ignored. If you sense your position on the corporate totem pole is falling, trust your gut. When jobs are at stake, yours can also be the one ¦ sacrificed.

The red alert Industry: How is the ? industry doing? Good? Bad? Ugly?

Sales: Are your com? pany sales showing a consistent decline or are they plateauing?

Management: ? Mergers and acquisition, top cadre influx can lead to massive changes in the company retention strategy Boss: How does the ? boss interact with his subordinates? What is his or her reputation?

Response: How is ? the management reacting? Are your ideas being ignored? Did you finally get the promised pay hike? If not, be