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Counter-intuitive career tips

10 surprising things you can do to get ahead

by Penelope Trunk  |  4774 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

1.) Don’t be the hardest worker. No one can work 70-hour weeks forever without losing their mind -- or at least their perspective. You need to pace yourself. Besides, at this kind of pace, you may not always the best worker, but you'll surely look like the most desperate.

2.) Hire people you wouldn’t want as friends. Diverse business teams are more successful than homogenous teams. Creating diversity doesn’t mean hiring one guy from each fraternity. It means hiring people who scare you, disagree with you and think in totally different ways than you.

3.) Don't fear failure. Most people who have wild success have wild failure first. Have your failure early and significantly so that you’re primed for success.

4.) Learn to write direct mail. A resume is a piece of direct mail. At best, it will get a 10-second scan from a hiring manager trying to decide whether to interview you. Know how to control what happens in those 10 seconds. Hint: You don’t want the person to spend that time reading “References available upon request."

5.) Bake cookies for your team. Surprise people with your caring and kindness. They will view you -- and your mistakes -- much more generously. Also, showing your soft side at the office is risky. Cookies are softness without the risk that you’re revealing too much.

6.) Give the brand of you a rest. You cannot get to the top alone, so stop looking at yourself like you’re a one-man show. Education is the No. 1 factor in determining who will be successful. The caliber of your stable of mentors is the No. 2 factor. So start looking outside yourself. You need help.

7.) Blend in. Do not stand out for how your dress. Stand out for your intelligence and creativity. If you dress in a way that makes people look at your clothes, then you say “look at me for my clothes". If you dress in a way where no one notices what you are wearing then you force people to look at you for your brains. Remember, though, that boring, frumpy fashion stands out as much as flashy, funky fashion.

8.) Toss the business books -- read fiction. Your career is as dependent on your people skills as it is on your professional skills, so read books and magazines that help you to understand people. Read novels your co-workers recommend, and you’ll have reliable repartee for weeks. Besides, most non-fiction tells you about peoples’ mistakes, but fiction describes what's achievable.

9.) Say no frequently. Be choosy about how you spend your time so that each project you work on becomes a great bulleted item on your resume. Don’t work on projects that don’t matter, will get killed or are clearly mismanaged. When your boss asks you to do something you don’t have time for, remind her of her priorities and say you want to work on what's most important to her. This is a professional way of saying no to unimportant assignments.

About the Author

Penelope Trunk is a blogger and author of Brazen Careerist. To read her blog, please go to www.penelopetrunk.com

Read more by Penelope Trunk

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