Lindsay Olson

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How to Burn Bridges and Hurt Your Career

When you’re unhappy in a job, it may be difficult to imagine you’d ever want to interact with the people you work with again. And yet, if you don’t handle professional relationships appropriately, you end up burning bridges and making it harder to be hired by another employer.

Here are the biggest no-nos employees make that can drastically affect their careers.

1. Quit Without Notice

It can be tempting to storm out of the office, never to return, but you don’t do yourself any favors this way. You put your coworkers in a bind because they’ll have to handle your work themselves without any transition period, and you certainly don’t leave your former boss with a good impression. And said boss will be more likely to give a recommendation for you if you provide her, even if the job wasn’t right for you, with the appropriate amount of time to hire your replacement.

Even if you don’t use your former boss as a reference, it doesn’t mean you might not be checked up on. The PR industry is tight-knit and it’s likely there is some connection at the next company where you are applying for a public relations job. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to engage in “back door reference checks” without your knowledge.

2. Don’t Show Up for an Interview

Here’s an example from my own experience: after setting up an interview and preparing for a job candidate last year, she didn’t show up for the interview or have the courtesy to call with an explanation. She wouldn’t even answer the phone or return an email after multiple attempts. A year later, out of the blue, she reaches out through social media, emails and calls, conveniently not mentioning her unexplained disappearance and now wanting help to find her next position.

I understand things happen and sometimes people have a change of heart mid-process. Not wanting to work with this person isn’t grudge-holding, it’s an expectation of basic professional courtesy. That strike will keep me from presenting her to clients for future searches through our PR Staffing Firm.

If something comes up and you’re unable to make an interview, call the hiring manager or recruiter and apologize with an explanation. It might not be possible to reschedule, and perhaps you don’t even want to, but you’ll open the door to being able to work with these people in the future.

3. Lie on Your Resume

It’s understandable: if you lack expertise in an area that you need to get a job, you’re desperate to find a way to still qualify. But never lie on your resume. It’s surprising that 46% of resumes include all sorts of lies. Keep it honest, even if you’re lacking in skills. It’s easier to gain new skills than wipe away the shame of lying on your resume. Those lies will quickly reveal themselves when put to the test.

4. Behave Inappropriately Around Coworkers

Whether you share a bit too much over drinks with your colleagues after work or are a known office gossip, removing that boundary of professionalism can get you in trouble, and can alienate you from others. Even if you think you’ve made great friends at work, keep it tame and don’t divulge anything that could jeopardize your position or question your ability to maintain professional limits.


Why You Shouldn’t Slow Your Job Hunt During the Holidays

Olympia Standard December 2008
Many people assume that the job market slows around the holidays and end of year, but that’s not true. It’s actually a good time to step up your networking and job seeking, so that you position yourself to be the candidate companies turn to when they’re ready to hire.

Think of it like this: Many companies are trying to fill their open requisitions so new employees can start fresh in the new year. Sometimes they need to use up their hiring budget before January. Plus, people tend to be lax on everything during the holidays. People are taking time off to hang out with friends and family. Fewer job seekers are working hard to network, so this gives you the leg up if you dedicate yourself to rubbing elbows with hiring managers. There are plenty of networking events and holiday parties going on, which give you the chance to connect with people from companies where you want to work.

Business is slower for companies, so you’re more likely to get through to the decision maker by phone. You can get more insight about what the company is really looking for in a job candidate (sometimes what the job description doesn’t mention), and you can forge a connection by putting a voice with a name that you only knew via email.

January hiring usually increases a bit, so even if a company isn’t hiring in November or December, you’ll be on your toes by staying up to date on the latest jobs all holiday season long. Your resume will be updated and you’ll know who’s hiring if you continue full-force through the holiday season.

What You Should Be Doing

Make the most of the holidays for networking opportunities. End of the year networking opportunities are abound – from neighborhood get togethers and year-end events for your kids’s school to company holiday parties and holiday networking events. You never know where you might meet your next job connection.

Talking about the holidays is a great way to put people at ease this time of year, whether you’re in a job interview or attending a professional function. Work to build relationships with people, not by announcing your availability and need for a job, but taking an opportunity to get to know them and show a genuine interest in building a relationship. Then follow-up by email or phone occasionally, and when they’re ready to hire, you’ll be top of mind.

You could also send holiday cards to anyone you’ve submitted a resume to or interviewed with recently. Include your business card and a personal note reminding them how you met. Don’t mention anything about the job; stick to holiday wishes.


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