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Author: Lavie Margolin, Career Coach

When we accept a job, it is often difficult to get a sense of what is going on from inside the company. We can speak to colleagues and former employers of the organization, but it can be impossible to tell what exactly is going on day to day unless we are working there. A job can seem like a great opportunity for us until we start to notice some funny business going on. Perhaps certain numbers that should add up, do not? Perhaps we are asked to fill out forms that do not completely make sense to us, without bothering to question them as a new employee? How much did the employees of Bernard Madoff actually know? No one knows for sure but anyone who worked there is permanently under suspicion.

The quick rule of thumb is: if there is smoke, there is fire. If you start seeing too many question marks and are not getting the answers you are looking for, it is time to take a serious look at your career and current job prospects. It can be too easy to be placed as the fall guy (or girl). If you are asked to do something ethically questionable early on in the job, it will only get worse. First determine if what you are being asked to do is something inappropriate. If you do have a good certainty, begin planning an exit strategy. That does not necessarily mean resigning tomorrow, but make a plan.

One of my clients ended up in a situation like this and came up with a good exit strategy: After being on the job only a few days, Sondra was asked to “backdate” some files. She was to look at a calendar and determine when follow up  calls to clients were supposed to have taken place and place notes in the files as if they had. Sondra listened and did not know what to do. She thought about it over the weekend and discussed it with her spouse. She came in on Monday morning with a plan. She asked to speak to her supervisor. She explained that she is a team player and would be glad to help out whenever needed. The only thing she could not do was sign off on information that she did not know to be true. The supervisor accepted this and she was not asked to get involved in anymore “updating” of this nature. Sondra decided to gain enough experience on this job (six months to one year) without it being a major question mark on why she left. After one year, she left the job behind and did not look back. Many of us like to settle in to a job, especially after a difficult job search. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to prepare to move on quickly in order to sustain career success.


About the Author: Lavie Margolin is a New York-based Career Coach and the author of Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers. To learn more, go to Lavie’s website, Lion Cub Job Search:www.Lioncubjobsearch.com