“Today’s workplace doesn’t tolerate slackers,” says Gen Y career expert Dan Schawbel in his new book “Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success.” In a rapidly changing economy, young people either rise to the top or don’t survive.
To navigate the new workplace, Schawbel says millennials need to master a new set of rules that aren’t taught in school. Advances in technology, the rise of social media, and 24/7 connectivity mean young people have to promote themselves and take ownership of their careers in ways that previous generations wouldn’t or couldn’t have imagined.
Based on interviews and original research from Schawbel’s Gen Y research firm Millennial Branding, he reveals the new rules of the modern workplace that young people must learn to get ahead. The following is adapted from the introduction of “Promote Yourself.”
1. Your job description is just the beginning.
If you want to succeed in today’s workplace and make a name for yourself, you’ll have to do a lot more than what you got hired to do. In fact, your job description is just a scratch on the surface of what you should be doing. Always be on the lookout for new projects and collaborations with other groups, and do as much training and development as possible.
2. Your job is temporary.
As the world changes, so does the workplace. Companies are acquiring or being acquired, merging with other companies, or crumbling. Your team could be eliminated, your position outsourced, or you might lose interest in your job altogether.
3. You’re going to need a lot of skills you probably don’t have right now.
A recent Department of Education study shows that companies are having trouble finding and retaining the right talent. Soft (interpersonal) skills have become more important than hard (technical) skills. It’s never been easier to acquire hard skills — and those skills will only get you so far. Companies are looking for leadership, organizational, teamwork, listening, and coaching skills.
4. Your reputation is the single greatest asset you have.
Titles might be good for your ego, but in the grand scheme of things what really matters is what you’re known for, the projects you’re part of, how much people trust you, whom you know, who knows about you, and the aura you give off to people around you. Sure, what you do is important. But what others think you do can be just as important if not more so. If you build a strong reputation, the money and opportunities will find you.
5. Your personal life is now public.
The 15 seconds it takes you to tweet about how much you hate your boss or to post a pic of you passed out with a drink in your hand could ruin your career forever. Even the littlest things — how you behave, dress, your online presence, body language, and whom you associate with can help build your brand or tear it to the ground.
6. You need to build a positive presence in new media.
There are plenty of benefits to new media and the convergence between your personal and private lives. Your online social networks enable you to connect with people who have interests similar to yours. Your online presence can help you build your reputation, and the educational opportunities available online can help you dig deeper into the things you’re passionate about and want to become an expert in.
7. You’ll need to work with people from different generations.
There are now four distinct generations in the workforce: Gen Z (interns), Gen Y (employees), Gen X (managers), and Baby Boomers (executives). Each of these generations was raised in a different period of time, has a different view of the workplace, and communicates differently. By learning how to manage relationships with those in other generations, you will be more successful.
8. Your boss’s career comes first.
If your manager is unsuccessful, his frustrations will undoubtedly rub off on you, and the chances you’ll ever get a promotion are pretty slim. But if you support your manager’s career, make his life easier, and earn his trust, he’ll take you with him as he climbs the corporate ladder — even if that means going to another company.
9. The one with the most connections wins.
We have moved from an information economy to a social one. It’s less about what you know (you can find out just about anything within seconds with a simple Google search), and more about whether you can work with other people to solve problems.
10. Remember the rule of one.
When it comes to getting a job, starting a business, finding someone to marry, or just about anything else, all it takes is one person to change your life for the better. People may be saying no all around you. But as long as one person says yes, you’re on your way.
11. You are the future.
By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be Gen Y. That means that even though you may be early in your career, in the not too distant future you’ll be at the forefront. Right now, you have to position yourself to take one of these major leadership roles when the workforce shifts and older generations retire.
12. Entrepreneurship is for everyone, not just business owners.
A lot of people define “entrepreneurship” as starting a business, but in recent years the meaning has broadened to include someone who’s accountable, who’s willing to take risks, and who sells him- or herself. If you want to get ahead, start looking at your company’s management as a venture capital firm. Be persistent, sell your ideas to them, and come up with innovative solutions no one else has thought of.
13. Hours are out, accomplishments are in.
If you want to keep your job and move up, stop thinking that you have to put in a ridiculous numbers of hours per week. Instead, realise your value, deliver on it, measure your successes, and then promote yourself.
14. Your career is in your hands, not your employer’s.
No matter what they say, companies are looking out for themselves. And while you should definitely try to make your company successful, you need to make sure that you’re getting something out of the deal, too. If you aren’t learning and growing, you aren’t benefiting anymore, and that’s an issue that you will have to resolve. Don’t rely on anything or anyone: Be accountable for your own career, and take charge of your own life.
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