6 Career Tips You Should Put In The Shredder

(By Molly Cain)

If you’ve been in the workforce for more than three years and you don’t have enough to move to page two, don’t panic. That’s not going to count against you. What will count against you is forcing it…adding bogus information or creating a bulleted list of your high school highlights. Stay at one page until you can give them good reason to flip the page and keep reading about you.

The other day I walked into a networking event, put on my name tag and sat down next to my co-founders. I glanced at them both and decided they needed some serious education – it was time they learned the proper placement of a name tag. A lot of debate and about five minutes later, I moved my name tag to the other side.

I don’t remember when, what book or which professor told me to wear my name tag on my right side, but that advice stayed with me for many years. I remember learning that when you reach to shake someone’s hand, it’s more beneficial (allegedly) to have your name tag coming at them. It made sense to me when I heard it, so I adopted it.

Because of that one tiny piece of advice, I’ve spent 10 years being the only person in every room wearing my name tag on the right side. It wasn’t until the other night at the networking event that I realized… people probably aren’t thinking I’m the savviest name tag wear’er in the room. They’re probably thinking I’m an idiot.

This got me thinking about other pieces of advice that was wrong in the first place. Or is so outdated, it needs to be retired.

Don’t argue with the offer.   

A friend of mine recently contacted me in a panic. In her latest review, her boss offered a measly raise that was offensive given the amount of work she had recently started to take on (much of it was after hours). Not only did she feel she was being taken advantage of, she also legitimately became concerned she’d have to quit this job (she loved) out of financial necessity. So she asked for advice.

I asked her what she counter-offered and her world changed. She didn’t even think of it!

Hours later, with new confidence and the realization that she had the upper hand, she approached her boss. She laid ground rules about the hours she worked and she gave him numbers that made it worth her time. They met in the middle and today, everyone’s happy.

I’ll put it this way. When someone goes car shopping, they don’t look at the sticker price and slap down a check for that exact amount. No, you negotiate. Pretend you’re the car dealer and your job experience is the car. Your employer is the buyer, and they want to walk out with a great car for the cheapest price possible. Don’t let someone come into your dealership and lowball you. The first offer is just that, the first offer.

Don’t take risks with your career.

A mentor of mine once told me that if I felt nervous or scared to do something in a professional setting, I should take it as a sign that it’s important to me. And this meant I needed to follow through with it.

When people don’t take risks, they never experience fear. And when they don’t experience fear and fight through it, they don’t experience growth. See the problem?

If you’re one of those careful people in the workplace, you’ve probably missed out on some cool opportunities. Sometimes it helps to do the opposite of what you would typically do. Scared of public speaking? Volunteer to give the presentation for that project you’re working on. Feel intimidated by an executive? Ask them to lunch.

Or you can be really risky and do something far outside of your comfort zone to benefit yourself in the long run. Like my intern, who just yesterday changed her career path entirely by figuring out a way to send herself to school. I heard fear in her voice as she weighed the pros and cons. And when she finally made her decision, I felt fortunate to witness the moment someone changed their life.

Keep your resume on one page.

When you start deleting job descriptions and using 10th-grade text lingo to shorten your resume, you’re ready to upgrade.

You were likely first given this advice when you had minimal career experience (or by someone who didn’t know what they were talking about). I still get questions about it, so I know this advice is stuck in people’s heads. The general rule of thumb is that if you’ve spent more than 3-5 years in the real world, it’s usually time for two pages. Start spilling over my friends!

If you’ve been in the workforce for more than three years and you don’t have enough to move to page two, don’t panic. That’s not going to count against you. What will count against you is forcing it…adding bogus information or creating a bulleted list of your high school highlights (please, delete your high school stuff). Stay at one page until you can give them good reason to flip the page and keep reading about you.

Find a company you can work at forever. 

Many years ago I worked for a major telecommunications company that was struggling, big time. When they weren’t laying people off, they were looking for ways to cut the budget.

One day I came into work and it was as if we were hosting a funeral. The air was thick and I could audibly hear people crying. That was the day I heard about pensions. Oh, and the day I heard that companies could really screw with them.

Where once I really respected the coworkers who had worked there for decades, I suddenly felt really sorry for them. And really glad I wasn’t them.

I admire loyalty, but in today’s economy, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. You simply can’t. Aside from the scenario above, you’re also handicapping yourself with many other issues.

Like only knowing how to operate in one type of company culture. Only knowing one type of technology. Becoming masterfully cliquish (to be fair, I would be too if I worked somewhere longer than millennial colleagues have been alive). You’re familiar with just one kind of organizational structure. And you’re very firmly trained in one kind of pay scale (some of you might be surprised to find out that many companies out there actually give raises beyond the inflation rate).

It used to be safe to put all your faith into one company for your entire life…but it’s not anymore.   

Show no weakness. 

“Tell me, what’s your biggest weakness?”

 “Honestly, I’m sometimes just a little too awesome. I get things done a little fast and always have to find more things to do! It’s really hard being so good at what I do.”

It makes sense that someone long ago came up with the witty idea to respond to the weakness question with an answer like that. How brilliant, you turn a weakness question into an opportunity to dip into your “yay me!” bucket when you’re being interviewed.

But…have you ever sat across the table interviewing someone who actually answered a question this way? It actually sounds really stupid. In some cases, I’ll just envision what their real weakness is since they won’t tell me (Hmm, they probably sing really bad in the shower).

Employers these days are looking to hire real people with real human qualities. You’re not a robot and they know it. The new, hip thing is honesty. Try it, you might like it!

Don’t spend company money.

Throughout my career I’ve come across a handful of rare creatures. They are the people who do everything in their ability to save a company money. And they do it to their own detriment.

For example, there are people who will refuse to print important presentations because they don’t want to use too much paper. I know people who will not rent cars on their business trips even when their commute warrants it. Others will book hotel rooms an hour outside of town just to save a few bucks. One of these creatures even suggested I buy my own pens and paper for the office so that I wasn’t caught spending money. What the…

In all of the situations I mention above, not one of them was asked to be that frugal. Nor were there any policies in place requiring them to take these drastic moves. Oh, and also, no one noticed that they did it. (I guarantee the executives who take day trips in the company jet don’t notice it).

Don’t put yourself in uncomfortable or inconvenient situations just because you think the company will notice. Because they won’t. If the company allows employees to rent cars on business trips, do it. You’re not going to be rewarded for being a hero sufferer (but you might get mugged waltzing around a shady downtown area by yourself without a car).

If you act like you’re not important enough to spend the money a company has already allocated toward you, you’re inviting people to think you’re not important.

(Source: Forbes)

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