In order to survive, spies have to be really good at their jobs.
They have to gain their opponent’s trust and respond to a crisis quickly.
In the book “Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer,” J.C. Carleson writes about her experience as an undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency and the business and career tips she gained during those eight years.
From her experience, we compiled nine career tips that can help any employee reach the top of their professional game — and survive.
Study your industry and look for trends and connections in the field.
“You may diligently read all of the business journals, faithfully study your industry’s breaking news, be able to recite from memory your competition’s last SEC filing, and still be missing the whole picture.”
Basically, you need to gain as much knowledge as possible in your industry and see how everything connects with one another.
Look for trends and try to predict what will happen in the future for your industry. This will help you become an expert in your field.
Create a “hook” when networking.
“CIA officers spend a great deal of time formulating personalised hooks for their targets. A proper hook contains three elements:
A reason to meet once.
A reason to connect.
A reason to continue to meet.
“A good hook allows a case officer to establish a mutually beneficial relationship quickly — even if this relationship is based on deception.”
Similar to a CIA agent, if you want to meet someone in your industry, find a reason for them to want to take the time out to meet you. What can you offer them? Always approach the relationship with what you can do for them before asking for favours.
Keep your guard up when other people are being nice to you.
“Your cubicle neighbour may suddenly be chattier than usual because he is competing with you for a promotion.”
Carleson says you should never let your guard down and you should always know why someone is being nice to you — even if you are familiar with them.
In fact, “your most talented, hardest-working, most gregarious, best-liked co-workers are your biggest threats. That might sound a bit nasty, but he fact of the matter is, you are constantly being compared to your colleagues when it comes to decisions about promotions, bonuses, or career-enhancing opportunities.”
Don’t share too much information during the job interview.
“It may seem tempting to share information in order to prove your knowledge during a job interview with a competitor’s company, but a reputable company should be more interested in learning about you than your previous employer.”
Know that high achievers are difficult to manage.
“The highest achiever can also be the most difficult to manage. For better or worse, they have the confidence to stand up to authority, the intelligence to debate, and the bravery to defy — all of which can amount to a serious management challenge.”
Don’t force people who work best alone to work in groups.
“…[Don’t] force collaboration onto talented individuals who are superstars in their own right but don’t necessarily work well with others. Some people thrive on team participation, out-of-specialty rotational assignments, and constant developmental opportunities. Other people do their jobs well and just want to be left alone to do what they were hired for.”
Some people might be brilliant at their jobs, but would be “disastrous managers” and “a thoroughly unpleasant team member,” and in this case, Carleson says you should keep them if they’re brilliant, but promote them “over the course of the years on the basis of his solo work and left alone to achieve his results.”
Analyse your own weaknesses.
“Not even the best actors are infinitely versatile when it comes to playing a role. You can be as observant, responsive, and flexible as humanly possible, but there are always going to be situations in which you are, by nature of your appearance, your personality, or any other immutable characteristic, at a disadvantage.”
You need to know how other people perceive you and how you tick them off. Then, you need to narrow down any commonalities to identify your weaknesses. Be aware of them when you’re doing business with someone new.
Know other people’s weaknesses.
You need to know everyone’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities if you’re doing business with them. You should have a good idea of their background and even their competitor’s background.
Follow through on both your promises and your threats.
“Whether you have made promises or threats, follow through. You may be back at the negotiating table sooner than you think; a reputation for bluffing will not serve you well.”
If you’re threatening to leave your employer so that they will offer you a raise, you need to be prepared to do so if they aren’t willing to give you what you want.
This post was originally written by Vivian Giang.
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