Professionals of Color Focus on Success
Wes Poriotis, founder and chairman of Wesley, Brown & Bartle, Inc., the nation's premier executive search firm specializing in diversity and author of How to Avoid the Pink Slip, has found through years of corporate search experience that professionals of color are often the "last to get hired and the first to get fired."
Poriotis, whose firm has the highest record of placement of executives of color in corporate America, said about the current marketplace: "With the unemployment rate getting closer to double digits and under-employment increasing, being strategic about keeping your current job has become even more critical." He added that this has greater resonance for race, ethnicity and gender-related groups who are historically vulnerable, and, today, relevant for those with military status.
According to Poriotis, many professionals of color believe that working hard and having the right degrees equal job security. But it takes more than this to make it in corporate America. Learning company politics and culture along with mastering the art of appropriate self-promotion is crucial to successfully navigating a company's landscape: "Sensing the intangibles and knowing how influence works and who the influencers are can be vital to avoiding the axe." Here are Poriotis' 10 Steps to Staying Employed:
10 Steps to Staying Employed
(From How to Avoid the Pink Slip, published by Omega Communications, Inc.)
1. The first day you sense even a hint of your being expendable, start looking for a new job, either internally or externally.
2. "Join" your company's Board of Directors by learning to track earnings the way directors do. This will help cue you in to job cuts that might be imminent.
3. Watch for unfamiliar "buzz words" in business communication, social networking sites or on Web sites...like calls for the team to be "more entrepreneurial" (meaning "produce or leave") or any mention of a "business check-up" (meaning cost reductions -- a sign that layoffs are on the way).
4. Don't overlook danger signals. If you're excluded from meetings you've always attended, can't see your boss as often as before or you're being tagged as too methodical and structured -- you are vulnerable.
5. Beware of consultants and/or unfamiliar professionals or activity in your department. Management often turns to outsiders for an "objective" look at how best to boost productivity... and opinions on staff performance. Make sure you "bond" with any consultants who enter your business, and absolutely beware of giving them short-shrift treatment -- because the result could be a critique that spells termination.
6. Make yourself personally attractive. Pay attention to the preferences of those who evaluate you, their opinions on dress, behavior and work habits. Wherever you differ -- adjust accordingly.
7. Adjust your personal "time clock." If the boss is an "AM" person, you should be also. If he or she's a "PM" person, stay until dark -- or all night when things get shaky.
8. Cross-train to improve your value and develop additional skills...like learning Chinese, for example, or golf, so you can spend time with the boss.
9. Become a "tither." Devote no less than 10% of your time to subtle self-promotion.
10. Paranoia isn't all bad. Maintain private file-keeping copies of business correspondence and a record of events, to face and win any future challenges.
These steps will help professionals of color make the difference between keeping a job and losing it, especially in a challenging economy.