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Career Corner
Job Opportunities In A Tough Market

Ramon Greenwood -- It is very difficult to find much good news in today's job market. However, there are signs of a silver lining in the dark clouds for ambitious young men and women.

With companies downsizing to operate with fewer employees as a means for reducing operating costs, job opportunities are opening up for younger careerists, with lower salaries and less experience, to take on more responsibilities.

Fair or not, this is a reality of the workplace these days.

This scenario offers opportunities to accelerate the gaining of experience and new skills; and to get exposure to managers who make decisions about promotions and compensation.

Be aware, however, it also can mean getting pushed into water over your head and floundering -- even sinking -- if you are not provided with career guidance and support from your employer, or if you don't work diligently to master the job.

Some people are certain to be elevated too fast without support they would ordinarily get when their employer isn't in a crisis mode, advises Steven Lurie, an organizational psychologists who has written Handbook For Early Career Success.

Other ambitious men and women will take to the opportunity like a duck takes to water, remembering that in tough times employers are searching for employees who have the ambition and the capacity to learn and work above and beyond their current position.

"This is your chance to step up and show off what you're able to do," declares Jason Ryan Dorsey, author of Y-Size Your Business.

Job Tip: Eleven guidelines to success in a new environment

There are 11 steps you can take to capitalize on the situation.

1. Get clear information as to the scope of your new responsibilities...what is expected of you and how your performance will be graded.

Learn how your job contributes to you employer reaching his goals.

2. Understand whether or not your compensation and benefits change with your responsibilities. Accept the situation and get on with your job if there are no immediate changes in your compensation package. Remember it is likely that you were handed more responsibilities as part of a cost-reduction effort.

3. Be above board with your supervisor about your career goals. Demonstrate your willingness to learn and work hard.

4. Don't be reluctant to ask questions about your new responsibilities and to seek help and the resources you need to do your job.

5. Once you are settled in your new position, begin looking for ways to improve your performance, as well as that of your department and ultimately that of the company. Volunteer for more responsibilities.

6. Get regular feedback on your performance. Be ready and willing to act on both praise and criticisms.

Keep track of your progress on the job so that you can make the case for an increase in compensation when times improve and you have proven your ability to handle greater responsibilities.

7. Review your career path at regular intervals and revise your career goals where desirable.

8. Learn new skills that enhance your performance in your current position, as well as those that will take you to the next level. Push to get involved in management training programs.

9. Dress and act in a style that is appropriate to your new position. Study your peers for guidance. If they dress up at work, you dress up. If they dress down, you dress down.

10. Be a visible presence in the organization. Reach out to get to know key players in other parts of the organization. Participate in activities beyond your present job.

11. Don't burn bridges behind you. Keep in contact with those with whom you worked in your previous position(s).

Be sensitive to the difficulty you will encounter if you are supervising people with whom you previously worked as a peer.

Those who now report to you may have been your buddies on the bowling team. But there has been a shift in how you work together.

Career progress as a manager demands that you maintain relationships while establishing a necessary space in the connection between supervisor and those being supervised.

Don't be surprised if some jealousies crop up.

Remember, it is a sobering fact that you are on trial until you have proven you can do the job. If you fall short, you may be reassigned to a job at your former level.

Keep in mind you will encounter the same people on the way down that you passed on the way up. Therefore, it makes common sense to build good relationships along the way.

Career Coaching: If you have not been assigned new or added responsibilities, survey the scene to see if changes in the workforce have created new opportunities. If so, volunteer for an expanded assignment and then put these 11 guidelines to work.

To get Ramon Greenwood’s common sense advice on how to achieve your career goals go to Common Sense At Work Blog. His recently published ebook, How To Get The Pay Raise You've Earned, available for download from, sets out comprehensive guidelines that will help you work your way through the challenge of negotiating the sensitive issues of why you deserve a raise. It also provides tips for how to avoid shooting yourself in the foot when you get an answer. Case histories of how not to campaign for a raise are included. Ramon has written this timely ebook based on a wide-ranging career, including serving as senior vice president of American Express; a professional of a number of companies; entrepreneur; author; and career coach. He is currently The Career Coach at Common Sense At Work. For further information, contact Ramon Greenwood at

© 2012 Ramon Greenwood

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