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career insider

How to Read Career Road Signs

Cruising down the highway, we pay attention to the road signs. Some signs guide us to our destination and others keep us from making a wrong turn or driving in the wrong direction. Wouldn’t it be nice if your career path had signs to warn you of danger and assist you in reaching your destination?

The following career road signs and their definitions will help you build your career and guide you to your goals.


Be careful when interviewing where you are told there is room to grow and you see no proof to confirm growth. Small companies may paint a picture of expansion, when in reality all they are offering is a dead-end job.

TIP: Always do your homework on the company before accepting a job offer. A cul-de-sac position is just an embellished dead-end job.


Your company is growing and moving in the fast lane. There are many positive signs for your future. The problem is, when you look down the road there are many people tailgating for the job you want. It’s a bumper-to-bumper bottleneck. You may be told to go slow, be patient and you’ll move ahead.

TIP: If there are three or more people idling for the same promotion and you are not number one, start looking for a new company. Do not quit your current job until you have succeeded in securing a new job.


You receive an e-mail from your boss, which states: "Passing lane ahead, slower traffic keep right." This would be a sigalert that a promotion is eminent and you better step on it and put the pedal to the metal or move over.

TIP: When you know a promotion is due, go to your boss and ask what you need to do to get that promotion. This is not the time to be timid or think your boss already understands how badly you want the promotion. Many times, when other considerations are equal, the promotion goes to the person who wants it the most and declares their intentions.


If you have ignored this sign, by the time you realize what’s happening, it may be too late. You have been taking it easy, doing the same old job for years and to your surprise, you have been laid-off. If you have parked yourself in the same place for too long, you will be towed away.

TIP: As soon as you think you’re "comfy cozy" in your job security, you are in a danger zone. You must continue to improve and give greater value to your company or be replaced.


Moving up the corporate highway is what most of us want to accomplish. Some people will step on others. Some will lie and gossip. Some will cheat and steal. Those are the wrong ways. Be prepared for a head-on collision.

TIP: Build your credibility and promotability by being honest and straightforward. When you help others achieve, you will rise to the top.


Do you feel as though you are part of the corporate herd? Maybe you are part of a team where there is no room for individual achievement. The group you’re with is a homogenized blend of mediocrity. You feel trapped, in a vanpool, but uncertain on how to break out.

TIP: A team member should always value individual performance. Ask for a new challenge. Take a reasonable risk to achieve results in a new department or job title.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.