WorkWise Q&A, Blog Tip: Toxicity, scale, background

11/27/2013 10:15 AM

11/27/2013 10:19 AM


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve been out of work for 18 months and job hunting all of that time. I’m feeling pretty desperate.

This morning I received an offer for a job I could do easily. It’s one with some potential for advancement, too. I like the industry and some of the people I met. I didn’t like the boss. He might eventually become toxic.

What would I need to do to survive in this kind of environment? Teetering

A: Dear Teetering, You can prepare for a situation like this, but you’ll have to keep working on yourself.

Develop a list of the warning signs you’ve already seen so that once you’re on the job, you’ll know how to act when they recur. For example, you may decide to pull back while reminding yourself that the person’s problem preceded you and has nothing to do with you. You might also walk out of the room. Keep reminding yourself that you’re there for the duration, period.

Expand your exercise program to release the inevitable tension you’ll feel day in and day out. Exercise during your lunch break, even if it’s just walking around the building or up and down stairs. Exercise after work, too. mlc


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, My department has been working with vendors over the past few months. Most of them are from small businesses. We’re huge. They make working look fun, because they have more opportunities to make decisions. Also, they get to do several different things rather than focus on one type of task all of the time.

I’d like to see about finding a job in a small business, but I don’t know how to present myself. My nine years to date have been in large organizations. How can I become a good candidate? Interested

A: Dear Interested, Reshape what you do in your current company so it appeals to smaller businesses. Any business result applies on a smaller scale. For example, if you’ve increased productivity a certain amount – or contributed to increasing it – let them hear about it. If you’re in sales but close only, the number of sales might be too high to mention. Instead, mention the range of revenue you brought in per client or region. Finally, you’ve probably developed a tremendous amount of patience with other people, because you’ve had to move mountains to get anything accomplished. Convey that important detail. mlc


In a previous organization, Susan Nichol was conducting interviews for a somewhat sensitive administrative position ( The person would see HR and billing information.

One candidate wanted to know the points the company would focus on in a background check. Startled, Nichol asked for the question again. The woman volunteered that she’d had a DUI, to which Nichol responded that her only need for a vehicle would be to drive to work. The DUI was irrelevant.

“Well,” the candidate continued, “I had a party at my house and the neighbor got upset because we were loud and he came over to the party to complain.” After jumping on her neighbor’s back, the woman received a visit from police.

Nichol, at that point, knew there could be an element of surprise in this person’s report and commented that she couldn’t predict what would appear. Ever forthcoming, the woman volunteered that the telemarketing company that had employed her “was raided by the FBI for fraud and she was brought into the FBI's office for questioning,“ Nichol says.

This was not the time to ask questions, Nichol indicates. “Sometimes there is an issue in knowing too much when you do not hire someone,” she continues. “We had another better candidate anyway.”

Dr. Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at © 2013 Passage Media.

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