The New Rules of Work teaches readers how to launch a great career. It starts from the very basics, like knowing yourself and what you like, and takes you through all the steps, from job search, to personal branding, and negotiation, and career advancement strategies.
About the Authors: Cavoulacos and Minshew are the founders of TheMuse.com, a website career advice.
To Find The Best Job, Know Yourself First
The best way to find the best job for you is to first know yourself.
This is indeed very sensible advice, and the authors dedicate a whole chapter to recognizing your own values.
Something important to keep in mind is that your values can change over time, and you should be flexible enough to understand your new situations, and appreciate your changes.
Knowing your values will help you find the best job for you, but it will not guarantee you the perfect fit.
As you gain more experience in life, you can realize that you were wrong with the initial assessment of your values and personality. Or that you were wrong about the perfect job to fit your values. Or you were wrong about both.
That’s OK. Actually, that’s great. As long as you realize the mistake, you can fix it. And you can keep on searching for what truly suits you.
Interests, Skills, Values: Consider Them All
List six roles you think you are interested in, within six industries you like.
Those are your interests.
Then add two columns: skills, and values.
The best roles will align both to your skills, and to your values.
Develop Your Personal Brand
To develop your personal brand, it helps again to know yourself.
If you need some help, ask the people around you to describe you, to tell you what you’re good at and what do they think when they think of you.
My favorite part here was how to transform informal feedback into a professionally-sounding description.
So imagine for example that the description you get of yourself is:
“Affable, agreeable, and gets along well with others.”
That sounds nice, but it’s more like the description of a person you want to be friends with.
So here is how you can transform that description into something that sounds more professional:
Relationship builder, strong follow-through, and motivated to collaborate.
For personal branding, you should go with the latter.
Adapt to Your Boss Leadership Style
Alexandra Cavoulacos righteously points out that to best deal with your boss, you should adapt to his leadership style.
They base their approach on Daniel Goleman‘s leadership styles, and this is my own modified version, similar to the one I introduced in Social Power, workplace module:
- Commanding / Coercive: Top down, “do as I say” style. If you report to this type of boss, make sure to not only follow his instructions but also communicate that you’re following his instructions—tell him exactly what you’ve done and how you did it. Once he trusts that you respect his authority, you can start to introduce your own ideas.
- Authoritative / Visionary: They tell the team where they’re going, but not how. Often it’s the founders, or people who really believe in the company’s vision. When you communicate with this kind of leader, she’ll want to hear less about the specifics of what you did, and more about how it fits into the ultimate goal, so it pays to focus the conversation on the results rather than the process. Also, show yourself like you believe in what they believe, and they will want you higher up in the hierarchy.
- People Person / Affiliative: Cares about people, having a good work environment, trust, and a sense of belonging. Show that you love being in the team, show up at the after hours, and tell him how you got it done through people, networking, and relationships. Show yourself a supportive, kind, and friendly chap. Watch out that he might dislike strong go-getters, so don’t overdo it with your drive and competitive spirit.
- Democratic: This type of boss prefers the collective over the individual, and he loves collaboration. He prefers reaching decisions with discussion and he values harmony. Same as with the affirmative, be less selfish and driven, tone down the competition, and show yourself more of a team-player. When you are discussing, make a show of giving credit to others when you build upon their ideas
- Pace Setter / Achiever: He focuses on the goal and on achieving the goal, and he respects excellence. He is a high achiever and high performer himself, and can have some trouble delegating. Show to him you are like him, driven and hungry. Deliver when he asks you to do something and he will come to respect you (and promote you).
- The Coach: He likes to grow and coach his employees. Give him what he wants: ask him questions, ask him for feedback, show him that you appreciate his thoughts and opinions, take action on his feedback, and he will come to see you like his spiritual son.
Real Life Applications
- The 3×3 networking dinner
Invite 3 cool people in your network, and tell them to bring along 3 cool people in their network.
That way, you can rest assured you will meet high-quality people who can make a difference in your life, and everyone will be excited at the prospect of who they can end up meeting.
- Don’t accept the job offer right away
This is your time to negotiate and think, once again, if this is what you want.
- I didn’t like some of the networking tips to end conversations
To end a conversation the authors propose you don’t overthink it, and end it by saying:
You: It’s been great, I have some other people to connect with”
You: This has been so interesting, but it’s getting late
The first one, “I have some people to connect with” makes it sound like you have some more important people to connect with, which devalues your speaking partner.
In the second one, the “but” tends to deny what you’ve just previously said.
I liked much more instead their third recommendation:
You: Well, I won’t monopolize your whole night
This is wonderful because it places them above you. While you don’t always want to place people above you, since you are cutting them off first, it helps to maintain things neutral and balanced.
- Storytelling cover letters?
I didn’t particularly agree with the advice on cover letters, which seemed to be more about storytelling and would probably make the cover letter a bit too long.
Also, my advice on cover letters is different: they are a huge time sink. So draft as few of them as possible. You should prioritize networking to cover letters. If you need a cover letter, you should recognize you already not in the ideal situation. Ideally, your cover letter is an introduction or a personal meeting before you even apply yourself.
If you can’t get, my advice is to keep the cover letter brief, because very few people like to read long stories.
“The New Rules of Work” is a very good book covering career strategies from A to Z.
It spans knowing yourself, finding the right job match, researching companies, acing the interview, negotiating the salary package, and then having a great career.
The large breadth of going from A to Z is one of its strongest point, because it gives you a good overview and takes you to 70% of what you need to know to start a good career.
That’s also its limitations though, as some parts will necessarily lack in some details -like for example communication skills-.
I would say that if you are already an advanced student of self-development, career strategies, and people’s skills, than you will learn a few things while listening (or reading) to many other concepts you already knew.
On the other hand, if you are someone who’s just about to finish grad school right now, then this is a very good book to provide you with not only an overview, but also to help you set your career the right way.
For graduate students, this can be a highly recommended read.