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Watch for warnings that your job's in...


Watch for warnings that your job's in peril

Think you're about to be fired?

A new book by career consultants William J. Morin and James Cabrera says you might be right if you notice even one of these warning signs:

* You hate your job. That dislike is hard to hide.

* You are taken out of the communication loop. If you are left out of meetings, aren't getting copies of memos or are suddenly left out of luncheon plans, your co-workers may know something you don't.

* Your job performance is poor. Don't be fooled by a positive appraisal in a formal evaluation.

* Your boss doesn't like you. In most non-union workplaces, a personality conflict is a legal reason for dismissal.

* Your industry is shrinking.

* You like doing things "the old way." Workers who aren't embracing new technologies are likely to be left behind.

Mr. Cabrera, vice chairman of the New York career consulting firm Drake Beam Morin Inc., says that if you notice some of these signs, you should immediately approach your boss, say you are worried and ask, "How can I do better?"

If your cause is lost, he says it is best to negotiate a resignation and start over somewhere else.

If you do get fired, Mr. Cabrera warns against "sitting at home and vegetating." Mr. Cabrera, who has been fired himself, says fired workers must work hard to convince prospective employers that they will be a positive force in their companies.

"Be persistent," and don't be picky, he says. "In today's environment, you should take anything to get in the door, and then try to work your way up from there."

Job hunters' skills found to be lacking

The gap between the skills that job applicants have and the skills that employers need continues to widen, the head of a local training group says.

Although the number of job seekers is high, it is getting harder for employers to find people with even minimal skills to fill jobs, says Brenda Lane Oliver, president-elect of the Maryland branch of the Association for Training and Development.

Ms. Oliver, who heads career development at the Social Security Administration, has noticed a decline in the preparedness and work ethic of applicants. Her agency often has difficulty finding job applicants who can pass a basic clerical skills test.

And when the 24-year veteran of the federal agency hires new administrators, she finds many young people "expect a job at the top immediately."

She attributes the decline in work skills to a variety of socio-economic problems, including single-parent families and worsening violence in schools.

When she was growing up in Baltimore, "Mother sat with us and made sure we did our homework." But in today's economy,

even mothers in two-parent families have to work, she says.

Ms. Oliver, who has a master's degree in human resources management from Johns Hopkins University, has come to realize traditional colleges may not be the answer for everyone.

A two-year technical program after high school could give students the skills needed to succeed: computer skills, "learning how to learn . . . seeing the big picture," she says.

The local branch of the trade group, which has 400 local training professionals as members (and is part of a 500,000-member national group) will set up a pilot program at a local middle school to test some of these ideas.

Survey shows layoffs to continue in '93

Layoffs will continue next year in Maryland, a survey by the American Management Association finds.

Maryland employers had more "downsizings" and deeper staff cuts than employers in most other states in the fiscal year that ended June 30, the survey said.

And 22 percent of the Maryland employers surveyed said they plan staff cuts in the coming year. That's slightly less than the 25 percent national average.

But the group warns that the number of actual layoffs is usually twice the predicted number.

Although the downturn that started in 1990 is often dubbed a "white collar recession," more than half the jobs erased so far have been hourly wage jobs.

The survey noted, however, that middle managers make up no more than 8 percent of the work force but their jobs made up 19 percent of the positions eliminated by surveyed companies.

NIOSH sheds light on repetitive stress

As more workers use computers on the job, complaints about "repetitive stress" problems, such as aching wrists, have skyrocketed. Now, a federal study at the Los Angeles Times has found that more than half of the workers who complained of repetitive stress pain have "significant" musculoskeletal disorders.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health's two-year study, which the newspaper requested, found that the more time a worker spends at a computer, the greater the risk of a hand or wrist injury.

NIOSH recommended the Times allow employees greater freedom in "self-pacing" their work and taking breaks.

However, NIOSH officials say they have yet to develop an overall explanation of what combination of work, equipment, management and individual physical characteristics causes repetitive-stress injuries.

HTC Repetitive-stress ailments strike 185,000 office and factory a workers a year.

The Los Angeles Times is published by Times Mirror Corp., which also owns The Sun and The Evening Sun.

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