After three months on the job, you should know who's who, who has clout, whom to avoid, and how to get things done in spite of people, Their positions, and their personal agendas.

In other words, You will become part of the informal structure of the organization. You should become aware of it and use it to your advantage.

While it goes without saying that you should demonstrate excellent work habits and perform well in your job, you need more than just habits and performance.

You also need to understand the informal organization, develop new networks, and use them to advance your career.

This means conducting an internal career advancement campaign as well as an annual career check-up.

While you are trying to do your job well, you should also learn about the different people around you, who has the real power in your organization, and learn to play positive politics.

After a while, many organizations appear to be similar in terms of politics and personalities. Intensely interpersonal jobs are the most politically and personality charged.

Indeed, people usually get fired because of politics and personal conflicts - not gross incompetence. What do you do, for example, if you find yourself working for a tyrannical or incompetent boss, or a jealous co-worker is out to get you? Some companies can be unhealthy for your career development and your mental health.

SOURCE: Adapted from Ron and Caryl Krannich, The Ex-Offender's Job Hunting Guide (Manassas Park, VA: Impact Publications). Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.