blog conversation: leaving bad work experiences behind

as you probably know by now, jacob from the job mob and i are having a blog conversation about recovering from bad work experiences. in his latest post about the topic, jacob points out, quite rightfully, that one of the reasons why we end up in bad work situations is because we didn’t ask the right questions in the job interview. or maybe we asked them and got a bad vibe to begin with and didn’t pay attention.

and again it’s the same as with other bad relationships – we often get a funny feeling right away but for some reason, we don’t take our gut reactions seriously and instead of getting the hell out of dodge, we willingly (if often unconsciously) line up for maltreatment.

this dovetails well with what i was going to talk about today. in my last post about this, i suggested that the first three steps in dealing with a bad work situation are resigning, recovering and looking at your resources. let’s talk about the next step today: research.

one of the things to contemplate in the resource phase is your set of values. the next step is to find out what companies share these values. how do you find this out? a good place to start are your local business news. here in vancouver we have a great newspaper, business in vancouver, that is a veritable treasure trove of information.

of course you can also google the topic, and you’ll come up with something like this. as you browse through this information, watch out for information about company practices that are in line with your values. e.g., if you need work-life balance, look for companies that talk about that, too, or offer on-site daycare, flex-time, etc.

the next step is information interviews. select a few companies that seem to have values similar to yours and set up a visit with them for 15 minutes or so. ask them a few questions about their practices. naturally, you don’t want to grill them. “so tell me, exactly how many people of colour are working for you right now, and how come you don’t have more?” wouldn’t go over too well.

however, if you asked, “what would you say are your top priorities in human resources?” you’d have an opener, and the conversation could then lead to a question like, “and how do you think diversity in the workplace fits into all this?”

after just a few hours of scouring through information and three or four information interviews, you’ll be amazed what you can find out.

i’m looking forward to jacob’s thoughts on this.


  1. I have just resigned from a job that made me feel inadequate, lonely and depressed… I will have money problems. However once colleagues outside of the organisation heard of my resignation (1 day to 1 week) they have been passing me leads. I have all ready been to an informal interview… but I am not sure how I performed or if I will get it but it feels good that people want to help me out! Feel paranoid as well as feel there is an ulterior motive (they have someone else they think will do the job better; she lives opposite me by coincidence) as well but to be honest if there is I am not going to let it worry me… perhaps I need to move on anyway even though I feel I was pushed I think I need to me away from that environment to flower and move on. I will definately join the union and not ever put all my eggs in one basket as that kills me…

  2. I have a question for you. Please allow me to set up. I have had very bad situations (eventually) in every single position I have held. As a technologist coming into the profession during the tech boom, I have held positions at a number of companies in a number of states. Of all my managers, I have had 2 excellent managers. Every other one has not been qualified to manage people, which is common in large corporations; I have never worked for a small company. I have further been a road warrior for about 8 years. Currently I am unemployed.

    All of the companies for which I have worked have pretty decent values and are forward thinking. Additionally, their mission statements are impressive. Their long-term goals are stated well. But in each case, what’s “on paper” is substantially different than reality. I read a post almost identical to this yesterday. The recommendations were the same. However, I am remiss to recommend this as an all-inclusive way to determine whether or not the “culture” of the department in which one is going to work is copacetic to one’s particular value set.

    Benefits are one thing; as you mentioned, on-site child care, etc. But companies still function in a silo-d environment, regardless of the desire to break down the barriers as they projectize across the silos.

    So, what is your recommendation in “sleuthing” to find out the true culture as opposed to that which is stated “on paper”?

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