Monday, May 15, 2017

Ask a Career Coach: How to Prevent Being Laid Off From a New Job, Sort of

Today our guest blogger Jessica DeCotis answers another question.

The Question: “Hi Jess, Last year I [was] employed at a company, and then a month later they had a layoff and let me go. [I am] worried that a company I’m currently interviewing with might do the same thing. What can I do to make sure it won't happen again?
The Answer: The short answer is, nothing. There is never a guarantee that a company won't let you go due to layoffs or otherwise. However, there are other things you can do to make sure the company is financially healthy. Here are some steps to take:
1. Do your research
Look up news articles on the business and industry. Look for news about:
a. Recent layoffs
b. Acquisitions
c. Hiring freezes
d. A new CEO
e. Ongoing litigations
Any of these could be a sign that the company may be going through some significant changes and that could include layoffs. If you find any of these articles in recent news, you can follow step 2.
2. Inquire further
Ask your interviewers. Once you’ve found articles on the company, it doesn’t hurt to politely bring them up in an interview or phone call. It will also show you’ve done your homework. You can say something like, “I saw that your business was recently acquired by the XYZ company, what changes do you foresee happening in your department in the near future.” You will most likely not get an admission about possible future layoffs, but if the hiring manager admits not knowing what to expect or doesn’t sound believably optimistic, it could be a sign of things to come.
3. Be direct
If you’re still concerned but would like to keep moving forward in the process, let the hiring manager know you have a few questions. You can ask if there have been any recent layoffs. If yes, ask why. If no, you can ask, how often are products canceled or priorities changed? If the answer is "recently there have been a lot of products canceled," This could be a sign that this company is dealing with budget and cash flow issues.
If you have even an inkling that it would be a poor decision to take a position somewhere, don’t do it.
If you’ve received an offer, let the company know that you are grateful for the offer but you've decided to stay where you are and would love the possibility of working with them in the future.
By Jessica DeCotis, Career Coach
If you would like a personalized session to refresh your resume, prepare for an interview, or learn the best techniques for a targeted job search, JDec Marketing and Career Coaching can help you. No matter your current job situation, there is an affordable option for you. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tips for the Introverted Networker

Networking events can be scary for even the most extroverted person, so for introverts the thought of it can be even more challenging. However, networking is a crucial part of the job search and one’s career development as a whole. Introverts should have a much easier time with the networking process by utilizing these helpful tips:

Don’t discount your prep work
Going in well prepared can really help with the anxiety of having to talk to a group of strangers. Before you go to your next networking event, spend some time thinking about what it is you are hoping to gain from the event. Then prepare some questions that you’ll ask others in order to achieve that goal. Also, make sure you have some things prepared for you to share as you can’t rely on the other person to carry the entire conversation. Practicing these questions and answers before you go can help with your confidence once you’re actually there. If you’re worrying less about what to say, you’ll be able to focus more on listening!

Utilize the buddy system
If you don’t have to do these events solo, then don’t! Try and bring a colleague or friend with you so at least you’ll have a safety net if you’re finding it hard to connect with others. This type of backup can help make bigger events less intimidating. If you are unable to bring someone else with you, try and make at least one solid connection early on so at least you’ll have someone to sit with and who can help introduce you to others.

Use technology to your advantage
If a guest list is available before the event, use LinkedIn or Google+ to get some more information about them. Knowing their background will make it easier to come up with relevant questions and conversation starters. Finding things in common can also help form a more memorable connection and knowing their background info beforehand can help make that happen.

Set a goal and follow up
Before the event, set a goal for making connections and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. It’s okay to start small but as you get more comfortable with networking, try and increase your goal for making connections. It’s okay not to spend a lot of time with your connections at the networking event. Most introverts feel more comfortable in more intimate, one-on-one settings. Once you feel like you’ve made a solid connection with someone, politely break it off and ask for their business card so you can follow up with them. This way you can continue strengthening the connection, but in a setting you feel more comfortable in, such as one-on-one at a coffee shop. Just make sure you actually do follow up with them!

Confidence is key
Networking is simply developing relationships and sharing information and resources for mutual benefit. Get rid of the notion that you’re there just because you need something from someone else. This type of mindset is belittling to yourself and can make you feel guilty about trying to make connections. Instead, focus on the fact that everyone is there to try and gain something and that when you share your professional expertise, you position yourself as someone who has knowledge or resources that might be valuable to others!

By Njyhalo Pavati, RIT Office of Career Services Graduate Assistant

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ask a Career Coach: How to Assertively Deal with a Toxic ‘Manager’

With this post, we introduce a new contributor, Jessica DeCotis, RIT Alumna and founder of JDec Marketing and Career Coaching. Her Ask A Coach series provides career search and management advice.

The Question: Dear Jess, I have a boss who is a real life gaslighter. He consistently makes me feel like I’m crazy. He tells me to do something one day, and when I do exactly as he’s asked, he screams at me that he would “never ask me to do such a thing!” I am at a loss. This happens multiple times a week. I am afraid of him, and can’t stand the thought of going to work everyday. I never had a problem with my managers in the past. What can I do? I’m new here and I don’t want to give up easily.

The Answer: I’m so sorry you are going through t­­­his. It’s true what they say, misery loves company. I firmly believe that these “managers” are unhappy, whether they admit it to themselves or not. The fact of the matter is that you need to take steps to protect yourself because you’re working with a toxic person who somehow gained access to a role with subordinates.

1. Recognize Your Worth by Becoming Self-Aware
You were hired for your position because you possessed a skillset and the right kind of potential for growth. Do not allow anyone to minimize that. Everyone has room for growth, but being told you’re bad at your job, or you’re not doing it the right way, when you are clearly following direction, is wrong. Own your strengths, your skills, and your potential. But also, own your weaknesses (the real ones, not the ones made up by someone with a complex). View your limitations as opportunities for growth, because that’s exactly what they are. With this 360 view of your abilities you will be able to stand up for yourself because you know your worth. If you can clearly see that despite your best efforts you are being treated unfairly and disrespected, do not allow it.

2. Remain Calm in the Midst of Manager Meltdowns
Do not return fire with fire. If your manager is being aggressive, you will need to keep your cool. If you are aggressive back, you could end up in trouble with HR. Fair, or not, that’s how this usually goes. A tyrant tends to have very thin skin and they score lower on the proverbial emotional intelligence scale. The slightest infraction could very well send them on the defense. Do your best to remain levelheaded and don’t stoop to this person’s level. If you are being yelled at, tune into your self-awareness and assess the situation for an assertive, but firm way out. You can say something along the lines of “I understand there is a matter to be discussed, but I do not appreciate being yelled at.” If the negative behavior continues, you have every right to leave the room. You can also calmly mention, “I will be happy to continue this conversation when you have calmed down.” It is then at your discretion whether to report this poor behavior to HR or not.

3. Document, Document, Document
I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. However, I find it very important to protect oneself in a hostile work environment. After any meeting with your boss, send him/her an email that records everything you discussed. You should include action items, due dates, and what you have already achieved. If your boss raised his or her voice at you in any meeting, and you’d like it documented, you can include a line that says something like, “I understand you are frustrated, but as we discussed, in the future please know that raising your voice at me is not a productive use of our time.”
Documenting is also important to ensure that if your boss is in fact gaslighting you, you will have recourse. You can refer back to your email record of the conversation; what he stated he wanted and what you agreed to take action on. Be vigilant. If there is an update to any discussion, even just in passing, make sure you document it.
If you end up finding another job, or quit because you feel bullied or abused, you can present your documented complaints to HR (you don't have to wait until you quit, this is a personal choice). If you work at a larger company, this should technically go in your manager’s file. If there is work place abuse going on, I recommend enlisting the services of an employment lawyer, who may be able to help you get unemployment if you feel you were bullied into quitting. Again, I’m not a lawyer, but I have heard of cases like this.

4. Look For a New Position
It doesn’t matter if you’ve only been at a job for a short time. You should never allow someone to mistreat you. Not every scenario has grounds for quitting, but if you are being gaslighted, bullied and/or abused at work, you must strongly consider leaving.
Your health should be considered when weighing options about leaving a job. Stress can have some pretty dire consequences. Look at this situation as a bridge to a new opportunity and gained emotional intelligence. It’s very hard to advance under a tyrant, and ultimately you could be doing yourself a disservice if you stay. If you have to put this position on your resumé, and you are asked why you’re leaving, you can simply put it back on yourself and say something along the lines of, “I misjudged the position and gained more self-awareness. This current position has shown me that I prefer to work in an environment that…” Then you can elaborate on positive aspects of environments you’d like to work in, because you have a desire to succeed. Don’t forget to look for the signs of a great potential manager while you’re interviewing. You don’t want to end up in the same situation again.

To summarize, please don’t allow yourself to be mistreated or intimidated. There are some not-so-great ‘managers’ out there, but just because their management and people skills are incredibly lacking, doesn’t mean that you should suffer. No matter what scenario you find yourself in, you must always do what’s best for you, your health, and your career. This will put you on a path to finding a manager who is a real leader and deserves to work with you.

If you would like a personalized session to enhance your resumé, or learn new skills to advance your profession, JDec Marketing and Career Coaching can help you. No matter your current job situation, there is an affordable option for you. For more information, please visit