The Totally False Career Advice You Probably Hear All the Time
1. Always—Under Any Circumstance—Avoid Emotional Topics
Confrontation in the workplace isn't fun—and not necessary if it's, well unnecessary. Sometimes, however, it's beneficial to bring up something that's bothering you, especially if it's hindering work performance. "In my opinion, you should always bring a problem out into the open, even if it’s personal, difficult, or awkward," says Sean O'Neil, founder and CEO of One to One Leadership, a sales and management training and recruitment company, and a coauthor of Bare Knuckle People Management ($15, amazon.com). "Say you and a colleague have different work styles or have clashed over a project, and as a result there is serious tension between the two of you. Tiptoeing around the issue may cause your productivity to suffer, so it’s crucial that you confront your coworker. You can say, 'You seem to dispute every point I make, and I don’t understand. Did I do something to upset you?' If you talk about it, the situation won’t spiral out of control or become a pattern."
2. Climb the Career Ladder
Michelle Goodman, the author of The Anti 9-to-5 Guide ($15, amazon.com), says that, for many people, there's more to work and life than climbing the ladder and being top dog.
"There’s pressure in our culture to earn more money and have important titles, but not everyone wants more responsibility and power," she says. "And what we don’t hear often enough is that it’s okay not to want a promotion. So move laterally, or choose self-employment if you think that will make you happy. It won’t hold you back; on the contrary, having a nonlinear career path can make you more intriguing to bosses in the future, not less. They’ll view you as having broader experience."
3. Only Do What You Were Hired to Do
"Your boss has to look at the bigger picture all the time—she’ll admire you for doing the same," says Adam Bryant, is the deputy national editor of the New York Times and the author of The Corner Office ($25, amazon.com). "If you pay attention to your organization as a whole, you’ll better appreciate what other people do—and you might come up with macro ways to help the company. It’s a fine line between offering assistance and stepping on someone’s toes. But if you have the best intentions at heart, you can say, 'I see an opportunity here that we’re not taking advantage of.'"
4. You Have to Live at the Office
"For many of us, our careers are not our life’s passions. So it’s essential to pursue outside interests—both for our happiness and to facilitate our creativity at work," says Karen Burns, the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl ($15, amazon.com). "Amazing discoveries and insights are often made when people are tinkering in the garage, gardening, or riding a bike. Plus, hobbies help give us a sense of peace. And once we relax for a moment, the answer to a work problem will often reveal itself." It's okay if you're not absolutely obsessed with your job—and it's okay to leave the office every once in a while.
5. You Should Be Networking 24/7
It’s inefficient to walk into a cocktail party or an industry event and start mingling with random people—at least according to entrepreneur, a blogger, and author of Brazen Careerist ($26, amazon.com) Penelope Trunk. Her suggestion? "Throw away every business card tucked away in your wallet and work social-media connections instead. You can get in touch with important people who interest you, whether they’re in your industry or not. Retweet messages of theirs, ask them questions, and strike up online relationships. From there, it can be easy to get them to meet you for lunch or coffee—where you’ll connect in a real, personal way that will ultimately help your career."