In Dan Schawbel’s new book, “Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success,” he argues there’s only one way to have job security today: Make yourself invaluable. “Your goal is to make your manager’s life easier… your manager’s career comes first. If they’re successful, if they depend on you to do work, then they’ll pull you to the next level,” says Schawbel, who is the founder of the Gen Y consultancy Millennial Branding.
While his book’s title urges people to promote themselves, that refers to taking responsibility for their own career, and not incessant horn-tooting, which is all too easy to do through social media. “There’s a difference between promoting yourself and bragging,” he says. “The art of promoting yourself is making things happen for yourself and being accountable for your career,” he adds.
Here are five more new rules of the road when it comes to getting ahead at work today, according to Schawbel:
1. Focus on your soft skills.
Managers are looking for employees with the ability to prioritize, work within a team and maintain a positive attitude, Schawbel says. According to a survey by Schawbel’s company, managers say those soft skills, particularly in communication, are also among the more difficult to find in candidates. “People have to do more with fewer resources, and that puts a lot of pressure on individuals,” he says. “You have to be good at figuring out, ‘What are the most important tasks to accomplish at the right times.’”
That type of emotional intelligence will only become more important, Schawbel says, as more people from around the world compete for positions. “So many people can do what you do, so what will differentiate you?” Schawbel suggests asking yourself.
2. Get to the office.
Schawbel knows no one likes to hear this one, including himself, but it’s true: Managers prefer communicating with their employees in person, which means working from home is a second-best option. “Millennials don’t want to stay in the office. I don’t want to be in the office either. But if I was working for a big company, making an appearance a few times a week is really important, even if you can work from home,” Schawbel says. “You want to be seen as someone who’s doing work.”
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3. Expect to move forward in a non-linear fashion.
Many career paths today don’t move forward step by step, as they might have in the past, Schawbel says. “There’s no linear career path. It’s more of a labyrinth. People have more jobs and leave companies within two years. People are always looking for the next best thing … You have to create your own path, and your career won’t be with one company for life. You get as many experiences as you can, and then leverage those to create something new for yourself,” he says.
4. Give first.
To make connections and get ahead, Schawbel, who is a master connector, says you must first give generously of yourself. “I help out everyone else, and I don’t ask for anything. Then, when I need help, people want to help me. That’s the No. 1 way to network. It changes people’s lives if they do it,” he says. Connections can last a long time when each party feels he benefits from the exchange.
5. Be an undercover entrepreneur.
You might be working at an entry-level desk job, but that doesn’t mean you should stop yourself from brainstorming about what your company could be doing better. “Work on that project on top of what you’re doing, and you become more important to your company instead of just another employee. You become an innovator,” he says. And as a side benefit, Schawbel says, you’ll also enhance your own job security and, ultimately, your income.