Electronic Products & Technology


5 signals that alert you when your career is off track

You may be breezing along in your current position, when suddenly trouble starts brewing and your career is knocked off-track. There are ample signals that warn you beforehand, if you are observant enough.

Most people who are either stuck in the wrong jobs or about to suffer a job loss fail to recognize the signals before it is too late.

How do you know when your career is in trouble or at least off track? One needs to pay attention to certain signs. Here are 5 warning signals that will alert you.

Warning #1
A sudden depression or economic downturn. Although a rarity, economic downturns can be a strong signal for you, especially when you are in such industries as telecommunications, travel, hospitality, etc. Although the economy affects other sectors like healthcare, specialty manufacturing, etc. equally, mass layoffs are limited unlike in other sectors.

The reason is clear – consumers shun the market at times of trouble, which they can’t do with same vigor with the latter sectors, which fulfill customer needs. This was seen during the depression of the 1930s, post-lunar exploration of 1974, and recently after 9/11 fallout.

Warning #2
Your industry sector is passing through a lull. The best example that fits here is that of telecommunications and software engineering following the 9/11 fallout. First, WorldCom‘s fortunes dwindled and the company went into a total tizzy. A few top executives went missing while the situation went from bad to worse. Whatever the reason could be, the industry as a whole suffered instead of gaining from the loss of one big player by default. Job losses were to the tune of tens of thousands. Those who saw the signs and sensed what was coming very early took advantage of whatever opportunities they could.

Warning #3
The company’s finances are dwindling. Although not everyone is directly connected to finance management, it inadvertently affects everyone. Bad management, lost or declining sales, and poor quality of service are a few things that result in a financial emergency. This state of affairs, albeit slow, should not be missed. Important signals like a sudden drop in workload, a blanket application of cost cutting measures, sudden concern over petty costs and firing of sales managers should see alert employees chalking out their future steps.

Warning #4
Mergers and acquisitions are no less dreadful as far as employees are concerned. When two corporations merge, management looks forward to consolidate the benefits by downsizing any overlapping resources. Intelligently, employees must look for signals like changes in the top executives, big promises by management, rhetoric on upholding shareholder values, etc. The effects of this spread quickly.

Warning #5
Signals that show that you have fallen out of your bosses (or at least the company’s) favor. These include: bypassing you for activities (meetings, etc.) that previously required your attendance; a sudden increase in work pressure; ignoring your suggestions and job performance; and, dampened appreciation for your accomplishments. Your salary increments and bonuses become pale shadows of their former selves.

Once you sense the signals, you need to pay attention to them instead of just brushing them aside. You must start planning you next steps immediately to avoid being caught off-guard.

The company is doing what is right for them. Protect your career and do what is right for you.

Mark Borkowski is president of Toronto based Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. He can be contacted at

Click here for his previous blog


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