'J.T. & Dale Talk Jobs' is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the U.S. and can be found at JTandDale.com. Dear J.T. & Dale: I was the executive assistant to our CEO until he announced his retirement and the company announced that an internal employee would replace him. I have not been fired, but have been replaced in my position. My company assures me that they will find me something else, but honestly, positions of my level do not come along very often. I go into work every day with no assignments, reduced to offering my help to co-workers. It's humiliating. I've been told I should be happy that I have a paycheck, but I want to work. I feel that they are letting me stew until I leave. — Barb J.T.: As you can imagine, a lot of people would agree with the co-workers telling you to be thankful. That said, as an "at will" employee, your company has the right to let you go anytime. If you feel there isn't another job that suits you, they may soon reach the same conclusion. So you need to start looking elsewhere. Dale: Yes, but please don't give up on your current employer. I wouldn't read too much into the fact that you were replaced — it's common for executives to want to be surrounded by their own team. (I know one boss who insisted his assistant was telepathic — he would start to think of something that needed to be done, and while mentally composing the sentence, his assistant would say, "I made that call this morning.") J.T.: So keep volunteering around the office. Better still, invent your own role, based on what you know the company needs. These days, if you can affect the bottom line by saving costs or increasing revenues, you're likely to be listened to. Dale: Think about the psychology behind what J.T. is saying. If you assume the company is trying to frustrate you, what could be more frustrating? On the other hand, if you assume that they'd love to utilize your talents, it could lead to a great opportunity to evolve your career. In short, assume the best about your employers while making them your No. 1 job possibility. J.T.: Only make sure there are other possibilities, just in case. Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
July 16, 2009