Career Advice from the Middle of the Org Chart

I wrote this essay about 10 years or more about corporate life and getting ahead. The ideas and comments are more appropriate for someone entering the corporate life in their 20s but there are some universal truths for workers of all ages. To be honest, I wish I took some of this advice early in my career.

  1. Don’t accept a “maintenance” job. We’re not talking cleaning or janitorial services but a position that requires you to maintain the status quo. If a position cannot be improved or reinvented, it’s not worth pursuing.
  2. Within one hour of starting your new job, generally a new employee will know if they have made a mistake in accepting the job offer.
  3. Within one hour of a new employee starting a new job, their boss and co-workers will know if the new employee’s hiring was a mistake.
  4. Bringing in “new blood” to a company does not necessarily stop the bleeding.
  5. The number of people is not as important as the character and reputation of people in your social network.
  6. Results, recommendations and reputation always trump the best written resume.
  7. Too often a company truly understands the value of an employee not by their presence but when they are gone.
  8. It’s not the size of a business document with ideas that counts, it’s the feasibility of the ideas within the document that matter.
  9. Good work alone won’t get you a raise or promotion; good work that gets noticed and appreciated by others will. People who get promotions are excellent at promoting themselves.
  10. If you are seeking a promotion inside your company, promote yourself well outside it.
  11. The desire for principal generally overcomes the need for principle in most business decisions.
  12. Many corporate refugees finally find the boss of their dreams when they become self employed.
  13. Companies can find managers fairly easily, leaders not so easily.
  14. Employee recognition awards make great consolation prizes when a company won’t or can’t deliver on a promised promotion or merit raise.
  15. Be very skeptical when listening to other people’s career advice or about getting ahead in business, including this list.

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