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Career Doctor Articles

With the kind permission of the Career Doctor, jfo is able to bring you a series of articles to help you in your work situation and longer term career management

How To Stay in Your Job

By now, regular readers of this column will have gathered that the vast majority of people who visit my consultancy do so because they want to find a totally new career, or escape from their current job. But what about those people who are happy in the job they are doing and want to stay in it?

There must be some readers who enjoy their work and want to keep their job. For those fortunate people I will discuss in this article some of the right - and wrong - things to do if you want to stay in your present employment.

As a former Employee Relations Manager I was involved, on a daily basis, in dealing with employees who had come to the attention of management for all the wrong reasons. Patterns became apparent, and those who misbehaved, did not perform well, or were just uncooperative soon had a black mark against their name. And when a promotion opportunity arose, did they get that new job? Of course not.

Naturally if redundancies were being discussed, it doesn’t need a brain surgeon to work out whose name would be in the frame as first choice for redundancy.

Before I get a deluge of emails from people who have been selected for redundancy and feel that I have questioned their performance, let me assure you that I am talking about the odd one out, the workshy, the misfit, the agitator, the rebel. As most people do not behave like that, then being selected for redundancy should not be seen as a slur upon the redundant person’s character.

In general, an employee will be measured against three criteria - conduct, performance and attitude, and it is these factors I will elaborate on in this article.

So what should you avoid if you want to stay in your job?


Here are just a few things you should avoid doing, for they will give the wrong message to management about you. Sometimes people are not aware that they are sending out wrong signals, and so think about how you conduct yourself at work. For instance, clock-watching, being frequently late, too many sickies, says that you are not pulling your weight.

Being the odd-one out, not fitting-in with the team, being a loner, will put the spotlight on you - as indeed will be the case if you are a bully, and treat other employees in a disrespectful way. Verbal bullying can be worse than physical bullying, and the bully’s name will soon come to the attention of management.

Avoid sucking up to the boss, for that can backfire big-time, not only with the boss, but with your colleagues too. Try to stay mainstream in your job; if you are too much of something or not enough of something else you will soon find that your colleagues will notice that and make life difficult for you.

There is one sure way of alienating management against you, and that is sticking your head above the parapet and acting against the company. Volunteering to be a shop steward is risky, as is acting as a barrack room lawyer and stirring things; getting involved in office politics. In essence being seen as a trouble-maker.

Now I know there are benign managements who accept their employees’ trade union activities, and, in some cases, encourage their staff to join a union. But these are the exception. As a former trade unionist I would encourage all employees to join a union, and I still hold that view today. Even more so as I hear so many horror stories in my career consultancy about the way managers treat their staff. Having said that, I still believe it is not a good thing to risk being labelled a trouble-maker. Not the best way to stay in your job. Too risky!


In simplistic terms, all managers want from their staff is a consistent performance with regard to quality and quantity. So if you try to get away with things, take short-cuts, and give less than 100% performance then do not be surprised if your employer finds a way to get rid of you. Sooner or later the employer will win, they always do.

Quality of work is as important as quantity, so working fast but producing sub-standard work is a sure way of eventually losing your job


Naturally an employee who is sullen, irritable and unpredictable will draw unwelcome attention from management, as will someone who is uncooperative or resistant to change.

Sometimes this type of attitude degenerates into outright antagonism and aggressive behaviour. Quite the wrong approach, for as I’ve said before, management will always win.

Now let us consider what you can do to impress your manager and stay in that job you so like.


Basically do the opposite to what I have written above. Work the full hours, only take genuine sickies and be reliable and cooperative. Study for any qualifications and volunteer for any training or difficult tasks.

Put 110% effort into the quality and quantity of the work you carry out and impress your manager with your consistent performance.

Most importantly act as an example for others to follow. Be committed, focused, friendly and sociable. Ensure that other people like you, by avoiding unpredictable behaviour and not siding with the miscreants and troublemakers in your company. Let the spotlight fall on them for the wrong reasons, and on you for the right reasons.

Finally, it is a really good idea to find yourself a mentor in the company, and listen to what that person has to say. The ideal mentor will be someone who is successful, shrewd, perceptive, and can be trusted. He or she will have a good breadth of experience and be worldly-wise. In all the jobs I have held, I have sought-out and befriended people whose opinions I valued and they became my mentor. I certainly found that a good mentor’s advice can be invaluable.

Now, things have gone full circle, for I am a professional mentor, helping my clients sort out their various career problems, suggesting alternatives and showing the way forward.


When I was young and working my way up the Human Resources ladder I remember one of my mentors giving me some sound advice which I have used as my own personal creed and which I now pass on to you.

If you have the employer’s best interests in mind this will mark you out as someone who management will want to retain - so act at all times as if you own the company.

This doesn’t mean that you tell the MD what to do, but if you ask yourself “…what would I do if this company was mine …” every time you have to make a decision, you will not go far wrong.

Having owned this consultancy for nearly 14 years I automatically think like this; but when I was employed I still found this creed a good basis upon which to make decisions.

In summary, if you want to stay in your current job, work at it; think about what you do and say, and get yourself a mentor. And never give management any cause to doubt your loyalty and commitment.

Good luck!

The Career Doctor is Eric Hearn, Chartered MCIPD and Managing Director of Milverton Career Solutions Ltd, Ascot, Berkshire, UK.

Contact details:
Tel: 01344 624383
Email: milvertoncareers@btconnect.com
Website: www.careerdevelopment.co.uk

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Telephone 01753 610536 Email info@jfo.org.uk

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