Forget Everything They Taught You- The New Rules for Getting Ahead In Your Career
March 6, 2018
I often get asked what made me start my company. Although there are many reasons, there is one that is quite simple- I felt like people were being lied to. Bamboozled, HoodWinked, Totally Screwed.. and not in a good way.
I got my first glimpse of reality in college, when I noticed that all of my friends had essentially wasted their money and 4 (or more) years of their life to get a job they didn't even like. Even worse, most of them didn't require a degree anyway! Being the intuitive person that I am, and self proclaimed risk- taker, I decided to drop out. Nothing could be worse than meeting the same fate that now plagues millions of people - you know, underemployed, underskilled, and SOL.
I received my first recruiting job at the tender age of 20, and was tasked with hiring "premeir sales people" or whatever the hell that means. I quickly learned recruiting, a.k.a. one of the most challenging jobs on the planet, meant matching people to opportunities based off "what they're good for". It hit me that I had become the gate-keeper; someone who was seemingly unqualified to even be in that position. And then everything changed.
I spent the next 7 years of my life recruiting, became a career coach, and now entrepreneur- and have found my purpose in showing people a better way to find happiness in their professional lives. I wrote this post because I see how truly clueless people are on a daily basis. Operating in the ways of the old, underneath false promises and hopes. It's 2018 and nothing is the same, which means it's time for NEW RULES.
Let my words be a guide to helping you "un-learn" everything you thought was correct, and re-learn the unspoken ways of doing things.
Here's what your shitty career counselor in college didn't tell you about finding a job:
Don't Be a Sheep, Be a Dragon
"Are you a sheep? No. You are a Dragon. Be A Dragon."
There's a lot of memorable moments in Game of Thrones (damn you for making us wait until 2019!) but by far one of my favorites was when Lady Olenna reminded Daenerys who TF she was. For those of you that haven't watched the show (do yourself a favor and do), Daenerys Targaryen - Lady of DragonStone, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, QUEEN of the UnBurnt is the definition of a Bad Ass. In a pivotal scene she receives advice from her counselors who try to persuade her to play things cool and avoid a battle. Lucklily Lady Olenna (Equal Bad ASS), did Daenerys a favor by telling her that she is indeed a Dragon and should do what Dragons do. Fuck Shit Up. Let me be the first to say that society doesn't benefit from you playing it safe. In order for you to reach your full potential in your career you must take risks, you must ignore the nay-sayers, you must self-promote, you must POSITION YOURSELF TO WIN. You have to be A Dragon.
Aggression is Good
"I don't want to come off the wrong way, or seem like I'm doing too much". The thought that holds millions of people back from greatness every single day. We've been programmed to believe that aggression is a bad trait (especially women). That we should avoid being too forward with people, too honest, that humility is the most noble of characteristics. That we should let things fall into place as they should, and not to rock the boat too much. The issue is no one will know how good you are or what you can bring to the table UNLESS you tell them. The people that learn how to master aggression instead of shying away from it are the winners. The influencers, the people on your timeline you cringe at thinking "they're not that great anyway"- and maybe you're right- but they learned how to use aggression to get what they want. Those people never question going after what they desire because they believe they deserve it. Have that same energy.
Go For It, Even If You're Not Qualified
O.k. here's the thing. If you wait until you're actually qualified for a role chances are you're too late. This is not to encourage you to apply to things completely out of your scope of range or understanding, but if you haven't noticed lately our president is Donald Fucking Trump. Whatever your view, he is definitely not the most QUALIFIED person to be in that position given his track record. Let this be a constant reminder that you ultimately have the power to create the life and career that you want; with enough persistency and fearlessness. Even if you think you're not ready or meet the mark for a role, you should still go for it. As a college dropout I wasn't qualified for my first job, I got it. Some say I'm not qualified to be a career coach or entrepreneur but I am. If I can do it- you can too.
Yes it’s all about who you know
What you know should be more important than who you know, but if you didn't realize by now (see last rule) LIFE ISN'T FAIR. At some point in your career you'll run into someone that's a complete idiot and question how the hell they're in the room. The answer is, they knew someone that could get them in. 80% of jobs are found through referrals, which means you should be networking your ass off my friend. No, don't be the weirdo at the party scaring everyone off with your "pitch" and business card, but do seek to build genuine relationships. Your next great opportunity will most likely come from someone you're connected to- so get out there.
Shady Language Leads to Nowhere (To whom it may concern and other salutations that suck)
The amount of shady ass language I see in resumes, cover letters, and emails cannot be summated. Shady for all intensive purposes means unclear. "To Whom It May Concern" Who the hell is that? "Hope to hear from you soon" When exactly is SOON? People don't get feedback primarily because of their inefficiency to be clear on what they want. Any time you reach out to a recruiter, hiring manager, hell even a friend- your goal should be to be as concise as possible. When you're more specific in what you say you improve your chances of avoiding pointless email threads, minimize confusion, and fast track yourself to the results you desire.
It won’t make sense, MOST of the time
People get laid off one time and they think their life is over. Granted lay offs are never fun, getting fired is pretty shitty, and being confused as to "what you should do next" is a question you'll pose way often than wanted- HOWEVER, this is suprisingly o.k. I kind of hate the phrase "fail fast" (I mean who enjoys that) but I encourage it as it helps people to cope with their shortcomings. If you find yourself wondering where you went wrong- remember that you're not alone but more importantly that you'll find your way again. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, It's a jungle gym yo. (O.k. I added that in there but you get the point).
You Don't Suck, Your Job Search Just Does
While we're talking about doubting yourself, let me reassure you that you probably don't suck as much as you think. I talk to incredible professionals all the time that haven't gotten dream opportunities not because they weren't qualified, but because they didn't know how to look for a job the RIGHT way. What is the right way you may ask? By following up on every single application, by getting directly in touch with recruiters, by being creative and TRULY setting yourself apart from the competition. Platforms have made it so easy to "one-click apply" that people think it should be that simple. There's a reason you've applied to 80 jobs and haven't gotten an interview yet, It's because you're doing it wrong!! Revamp your strategy and see the difference for yourself.
Come Correct or Don’t come at all
Simply put, stop being so damn lazy. There are people that do and people that try and people that don't even try at all. Try to be someone that at LEAST puts their best foot forward, regardless of the outcome. Going the extra mile never seems worth it in the short-term, (who really wants to put in more effort than needed just to be told 'no'?) but it is always a safe bet. When you really do your best you won't feel that nagging sense of regret, you know the one that says maybe you should have studied longer, or tried harder, or put the cocktail down to finish that blog post. Stop selling yourself short! You owe it to the future you to give your very BEST today.
It’s ok to Hop Around
*Cues I Get Around by 2Pac*
I often come across troubled people that are at jobs they despise, just because they don't want to "leave too early". Newsflash- the longer you stay the more unhappy you'll be and the worse you'll perform! Believe it or not, the average tenure these days is about 1 1/2 years. Our parents begrudgingly showed up to jobs they couldn't stand for decades to cash out on their 401K or retirement plan. You don't have to. If you find yourself in a situation where you'd rather die than go to work in the morning, I think it's safe to say it's time to make a move. That doesn't mean working for 8 different companies in a year (you should consider freelancing if that's the case) but it does mean not being tied to something you know isn't right for you just to save face.
The Best Way to Get a Promotion Is To Ask For One
Waiting for someone to hand you the promotion you've been working so hard for? I hope you have time on your hands.
I was able to negotiate a 40K increase in my salary within 3 years by doing one thing- ASKING FOR IT.
Not once did I think to myself, surely they will give me the money I deserve as long as I do what I'm supposed to do. I've always been a fan of creating more opportunities than I sought, and certainly more than any that were given to me. Asking for more money is never a really comfortable thing to do, but the difference between putting yourself out there or playing it safe is drastic. Keep a list of everything you've accomplished, how you've created value, and why you deserve the extra 0 in your paycheck.