CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q: My coworker is one of those people who always gets attention, from both clients and the management here at the agency. He has a really terrific way with people, and he is unquestionably great at media relations. But the perception around here is that he is better at his job than he really is. For example, I often edit his press releases, as he is not one of life's great writers. He will make a great start on projects and plans, but leaves the details for others to figure out based on his grand schemes.

Q: My coworker is one of those people who always gets attention, from both clients and the management here at the agency. He has a really terrific way with people, and he is unquestionably great at media relations. But the perception around here is that he is better at his job than he really is. For example, I often edit his press releases, as he is not one of life's great writers. He will make a great start on projects and plans, but leaves the details for others to figure out based on his grand schemes.

We are at the same mid-level at the agency and started within six months of each other. Not long ago, he went to our boss and told her that he'd received another job offer that he was seriously considering. I know for a fact that there was no such offer, and that he was just doing this to try to get a raise. Things have been tight around the office, so nobody has been anticipating any significant salary increases this year. I thought he was crazy to try this tactic, but he was convinced the firm would pay him more to stay.

Well, it turned that he was right. They offered him a promotion and a higher salary to keep him here. I am absolutely furious and now I want to leave. He is no better at his job than I am, but because he has this big personality and was able to convince the powers that be that he'd really leave, he suddenly gets a raise and a promotion.

What should I do? Should I tell my boss that my colleague lied about having another offer? Should I just quit? I have no respect for the management here any more.

Ms. L, New York

A: As difficult as it may be, you really need to focus entirely on your own trajectory at the firm, and try and move beyond this injustice. It may be sensible for you to consider moving on from this job. But you can't make that decision based on how someone else is treated. You must have a frank discussion with your supervisor about your career goals. Prepare for this meeting by identifying your successes. Be prepared to communicate specifics about what you are looking for. If the answers you get don't please you, it may be time to think about looking elsewhere.

As far as dealing with your smooth-talking colleague, you can only do one thing: stop covering for his mistakes. You are doing him and yourself no favors by compensating for his weaknesses.

Q: I've been offered a job in corporate communications at a smallish but successful technology company (one of the few). The company offers tons of great perks to employees, including free lunch, an in-house health club, and massages. I was all ready to take the job, but a friend of mine told me that any company that offers all these freebies basically expects you to live at the company. She said I would have no life if I took this job. What should I do?

Ms. P, San Jose, CA

A: Tell your friend to keep her opinions to herself. She has no idea what your job situation will be like. Just because a company offers a lot of perks does not necessarily mean that they expect you to spend every waking hour there. But if you have not yet accepted the position, it might be a good idea to pose this question to your interviewer. There is no harm in finding out what the company's expectations are regarding working hours.

The culture of an organization is an important factor in determining your long-term interest in any job.

- Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try Pandora. E-mail her at pandora@prweek.com.

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