Why Sucking Up Won't Save Your Job

Instead, Nate explained, this kiss-up has taken it upon himself to educate management about the latest Internet trends and to add many of these bells and whistles to the company's Web site, all the while doing his best to "pawn off as much busywork as he can on everyone else."

"He doesn't even do the part of his job he got hired for," Nate said. "He does stuff above and beyond, but I don't know if you can call it 'above and beyond' when he's dropping the ball on the day-to-day duties."

Such sucking up may allow a slacker-in-disguise to coast or soak up the limelight in the short term, said Burke, the staffing firm executive. But once a company starts tightening its belt, these poseurs will be outed, especially if the high-profile projects they've appointed themselves to spearhead aren't paying off financially.

And even if management's slow to notice what's going on, Burke said, your peers won't be.

"If people start to lose their jobs, it's inevitable that others will say, 'Hey, what about that person? What are they producing?'" Burke said.

In fact, Nate and his coworkers have no intention of waiting that long to out their teammate.

"While he's going out of his way to make himself look good in the eyes of upper management," Nate said, "we're all going out of our way to try to get him caught."

The Person Actually Doing His or Her Job

In this economy of doing more with less, "the best way to stay in the good graces of your boss is to work hard, be professional and be a good team player," said Burke.

Rather than sending out, "I finished the project!" or, "I'm researching the latest industry trend!" e-mails until your fingers are cramped, ask your boss what they'd like you to do to pitch in.

That's what Beth Rose Avery did when the sales team and workload she was managing at a Washington, D.C. consulting firm started dwindling down to nothing this year.

Besides showing up on time, dressing a bit sharper and laying off the celebrity blogs, she offered to help the company's marketing department with some of their projects.

"I'm glad I did," Rose Avery said. "My sales management position was essentially eliminated, but due to my hard work, they asked me if I wanted to take a job in marketing."

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist, author and former cubicle dweller. Her books — "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube" -- offer an irreverent take on the traditional career guide. More tips on career change, flex work and the freelance life can be found on her blog, Anti9to5Guide.com.

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