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Have you ever been demoted?

If so, you're not alone. A survey finds that 46 percent of human resource managers say their company has demoted an employee. Most of those demotions hit male professionals and those ages 18 to 34.

If you think about it, the first thing you would want to do after being demoted is deliver a significant hand gesture to your boss and walk out the door, possibly kicking a nearby trash can for good measure. Or, go into a massive sulk and do only the bare minimum required to still collect a paycheck.

The survey supports this: For those who are demoted, 52 percent quit while 47 percent become disengaged.

Such reactions won't surprise an employer. First, they may have demoted you in an effort to get you to quit. Second, they demoted you and are paper-trailing you so that they can fire you in the near future as your performance deteriorates.

But what if you don't quit? What if you turn the tables and actually get better at your job? If you take that course of action, then you've taken control of your career instead of letting a demotion derail it.

It won't be easy. You're going to be pissed, frustrated, depressed and demoralized by the demotion. The demotion may not even be the result of poor performance, but have to do with internal politics or restructuring.

Whatever you're feeling and whatever the reason you were demoted, you have to be smart about it and understand that if you decide to leave, it's going to be much easier to find another job if you depart on good terms. That means you've got to prove you're of value. How? By turning in work where you show proven value and results.

When you've been demoted, it's going to be more important than ever that you:

  • Suck it up. Don't let them see you sweat or cry. All they should see written on your face is steely resolve and determination.
  • Get specifics. Make sure you're 100 percent clear on the performance issues that got you demoted and what your boss believes you need to do to correct them. 
  • Craft a battle plan. Make no mistake: You're going to have to fight to regain ground and get your career back on track. Write out what you need to accomplish in the next week and coming months.
  • Communicate in writing. Let the boss know what you're doing to improve. Daily email reports can provide a way for you to prove you're making changes. You can also give these reports in person, but written evidence will help the boss clearly see the steady progress you're making.
  • Add value. Craft a plan to cut customer turnover, make a process more efficient or improve safety. This is a move designed to make you more valuable to your current employer -- but also beef up your resume so that if you decide to leave you can demonstrate your worth.
Being demoted is no fun. But there's no reason to let it define you. Once it happens, you cannot change it but you can use it to spur new actions that will help you with your current employer -- or propel you into a job that is a better fit.

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Whether it's an office potluck or a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant, most workplaces have some type of holiday gathering.

You may look forward to these events as you sneak extra cookies into your pocket -- or you may dread them and plan to fake a case of malaria to get out of it. (Bad idea. Don't skip the event as no one ever believes such excuses).

While I hope you enjoy your party, you need to always remember that whether you do or not, it's still a work event. That means that if you wouldn't dance on the table during a regular work meeting, then you shouldn't do it at an office party. Still, I'm not saying you shouldn't have a good time, and getting into the spirit of the holidays can actually help your career.

How? It gives others a chance to see you in a whole new light -- as someone who is funny or makes a point of talking to the shyest person at the event. Your career can always benefit when you demonstrate a genuine interest in others.

As you don your ugly Christmas sweater or make your favorite bean dip for the potluck, here are some ways to make sure the holiday party doesn't derail your career:

1. Hang out with people who drive you crazy. You don't have to subject yourself to an entire evening of Debbie Downer's company or Loud Fred's obnoxious stories, but do commit to spending time with people you generally avoid at work. "What's your favorite holiday tradition?" you can ask. Or, introduce yourself to this person's significant other to make him or her feel welcome. Just exchanging pleasantries can help ease some anxieties for your colleagues and perhaps reduce some of their unpleasant behavior during the week if they feel a greater rapport with you. Keep in mind that you're expected to work well with everyone on the job -- you're there to contribute, not avoid people you don't like.

2. Network. People often believe that networking only takes place with those outside a current company. Wrong. You should also be networking with those inside your company because those are often the people who you run across in the future when you need a referral to another job or require information to land a new position. Never burn bridges -- only work to make them stronger. Don't neglect relationships inside your company or you may pay the price later in your career.

3. Have fun. Laughing, telling funny stories or just enjoying the moment of seeing Loud Fred do his Elvis impression is important. Jobs are often tedious, frustrating, stressful and difficult. This needs to be a time when you put all that aside and get to know your colleagues in a new and fun way. Mute your phone. Stick it in your pocket and leave it there. These moments are what will form a new and better bond with your team, and that's a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.
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What makes you unique? If you ask your nana, it’s the fact that you have the cutest little dimples ever. Your friends might say you’re special because you can burp the alphabet. But do those things really mean anything to an employer?
Probably not. The key to success in your career often comes down to how you’re able to bring that special “something” to an employer — some unique ability or skill that will help them beat the competition.
But coming up with that unique value proposition — or your personal brand story — can be daunting. Thousands of people may say they have many of the same skills as you (project management, copywriting, leadership, etc.), so the key is figuring out how you can differentiate yourself in a positive way.
“You’re not an ‘employee’ of General Motors, you’re (read more here)
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It’s estimated that 90 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, which means ignoring the site during a job search is sort of like tossing your resume in a shredder and hoping someone finds it and pieces it back together.
That’s not likely to happen, and neither are you likely to find the most available jobs or contacts if you’re ignoring LinkedIn. While you may think you shouldn’t use LinkedIn because you’re still in school or don’t have much experience, you’re wrong. LinkedIn is an incredible tool for catching the eyes of a recruiters; it’s also one of the best professional networking tools online. Your lack of a LinkedIn presence not only makes you invisible to recruiters, it (read more here)
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There's nothing quite as disconcerting as getting a new boss. Even if you hated the old boss, at least you knew all her weird habits and devious tricks and could counteract them before they did much harm.

But a new boss? This means a lot of changes, even if the new boss says there won't be changes. The new boss may only like to communicate via email, even if he's sitting across the table from you. Or, he may not understand that he really shouldn't talk to you before you've had a cup of coffee -- not because you're crabby but because you literally can't form full sentences until the caffeine hits your bloodstream.



There are some ways to ensure a smoother transition with a new boss, and also help him understand your value to the organization -- and to him. You need to:

1. Step up. Be ready to introduce yourself to the new boss like a real grown-up professional. No slouching behind your computer and hoping he won't see you. You can send him your LinkedIn profile or even a short email outlining what you're working on and any areas of development you're tackling (attending night classes, taking an online certification course). 

2. Eliminate "but" from your answers. There's nothing more frustrating to a new boss that always hearing employees say "but that's not how we've always done it" or "but that won't work" or something equally negative. Listen with an open mind to his ideas. Try to expand on them and instead of saying "No, but..." try to find times to say, "Yes, and..."

3. Take notes. When the new boss is giving directives -- from how to ask for time off to who is taking on which project -- write it down. New bosses have a lot on their plates, and employees who pay attention the first time will be seen as assets that are part of his plan when moving forward. Don't risk getting left behind because you're always asking "What was that again?"

4. Offer help. You don't have to be Billy Brownoser with the new boss, but be willing to offer resources or information that can make the new boss's life easier. "I can send you the report I did on that competitor last year. You might find some helpful information in it or perhaps I can answer some questions," you offer.

5. Don't badmouth anyone. In the beginning, the new boss is trying to get the lay of the land -- who does good work and who does not. Badmouthing a colleague -- or even your former boss -- is very unprofessional and will get you labeled a gossip. The boss may find your information helpful, but he will forever see you as a disloyal person -- and that means you'll never be trusted by him. 
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