Get ready. Thousands of bright-eyed graduates are set to enter the workforce for the first time — with their Brooks Brothers suits, canvas duffel bags or backpacks, and enviable hairlines.
To mark the annual deluge, Esquire released some advice for the newly employed, along with a list of gift ideas to “ease the transition into adulthood.” Suffice to say, it’s dreadful — written by some beta male with seemingly zero real-world experience.
For the sake of these kids, I have a moral obligation to set Esquire straight. Its recommendations include:
An “elegant pen”? Sorry, but if you — some 22-year-old kid — show up to a meeting with colleagues who have already forgotten your name and start taking notes with a Mont Blanc fountain pen, you’ll get side-eyed out of the room.
A “business card case”? That’s possibly decent advice for women, but guys, your suit jacket already has a pocket for that. Flash a monogrammed or silver-plated card case on a trading floor, and you’ll get a punch in the face. Fine, fine — if you’re cool enough to not work in finance and don’t wear a suit, you get a pass. Just keep it discreet.
An “old-school turntable” to “dampen the frenetic energy” of a tough day? If you want a way to unwind, it makes way more sense to get a PlayStation. It will also save you thousands of dollars from all the nights you choose to stay in playing Madden on a Friday night.
A versatile Timex chronograph watch? The only message that sends is that you come from a poor family, have no taste, and take yourself too seriously. If you can’t afford a decent starter watch (I wrote a guide for that), just get a funky Swatch or a Nike sports watch. This tells people you’re either whimsical or disciplined about fitness. Or just don’t wear a watch at all.
An Oxford-collar button-down? Esquire says there is “no greater sartorial staple for a professional man.” Sorry, but Oxford collars have no place in the corporate world. What happens when you get dragged into an impromptu client meeting and need that tie that you keep in your desk drawer for such occasions? Now you look like a community college professor. Instead, memorise this definitive fashion guide for dressing like a man, and you’ll be just fine.
The only decent idea that wasn’t painfully obvious (“a pair of good dress shoes” or “a tailored suit”) is to get a gym membership. This is obvious too, but it’s important to clarify. Chances are, you’re about to start spending more time sitting at a desk or wining and dining, and less time enjoying active leisure time. So going to the gym is more important than ever. But do not waste your time with the office gym. It’s no fun being surrounded by colleagues, and it’s too easy to get needlessly sucked back up to your desk after working out. Besides, there are way more attractive people at your nearest Equinox.
Now that we’ve fixed that, you should also memorise these tips for getting ahead in your new job:
1. People love to talk about themselves, so ask your new colleagues questions that get them in their comfort zone. A big part of your first impression is how you make people feel about themselves.
2. Buy at least three decent suits. Keep it simple; if a suit has too much flair, the only thing people will notice is how often you wear it.
3. Don’t wear a tie every day unless you have to; you just look like a kiss-arse. But always keep a spare tie in your desk drawer.
4. If you are exchanging “stock tips” with friends at other firms, use an app like Cyber Dust. Just don’t buy short-dated, out-of-the-money options.
5. Show some leadership by organising drinks and nights out with fellow trainees; get them wasted, especially in the presence of senior colleagues.
6. Do the coffee runs. It shows confidence. Just don’t screw it up. If you can’t be trusted with coffee, how can you sell bonds or manage risk?
7. Leave a jacket on the back of your chair so people can never be 100% sure if you’ve left early for the day or are taking a long lunch.
8. Never tell the first offensive joke, but always have a good one saved up for when your seniors finally trust you enough to share one with you.
9. Ask the secretary for the travel schedules of the senior members of the team for the week ahead. They will think you are being proactive, but now you know when you can sleep in, hit the gym, or beat the traffic to the Hamptons.
10. It’s OK to make a mistake or ask a question. But don’t ever ask the same question or make the same mistake twice.
11. Don’t offer to buy drinks when out with your seniors; you can’t afford them, and it won’t score any points.
12. Your boss’s jokes are always funny. Period. And if you are at the receiving end of a joke, laugh with it. If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will. There are no “safe spaces” in the real world.
13. Shut up about where you went to college.
14. Let your boss set the tempo when it comes to rowdy nights out. Don’t be afraid to join in; just make sure you’re the first one in the next morning.
John LeFevre is the creator of @GSElevator and the author of the New York Times bestselling book and Amazon Book of the Month, “Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals” out now on paperback.
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