Career Rules Are Made to Be Broken—Here’s How to Do It
There’s a lot of conflicting career advice out there. When you’re recognized for an achievement, own it rather than brushing it off—but give your coworkers the credit they deserve, or risk looking arrogant. Don’t work too much, or you’ll burn yourself out—but if you want a reputation as a hard worker, show up early and stay late. Avoid checking your email after you’ve left the office—but respond quickly to every message that comes in.
Is your head spinning? No wonder many professionals feel they’re falling short no matter which choices they make.
We’ve got good news: Many career “rules” can and should be broken. Here’s how to write your own playbook.
Step One: Look at the Long-Term Impact
Next time you’re faced with two choices, and neither of them is obviously better, take a step back. If you go with the first option, what will the consequences be one year from now? What about the second option? This exercise helps you identify which decision will ultimately be better for your career.
For example, you might be torn between volunteering for an exciting project or doubling down on your current responsibilities. The new initiative will win you recognition and the chance to learn fresh skills, but you’ve already got a lot on your plate.
You grab a piece of paper and write:
12 months after taking on new project: Have added new capability to my resume and can apply for more consulting jobs than before.
12 months after not taking on new project: Impressed my supervisor with hard work and dedication.
If you’re interested in taking on new types of jobs, the first future probably sounds more appealing. But if you love your current work, you’re likely more drawn to the second.
Either way, you have a better sense of what to choose.
Step Two: Go Back to Your Priorities
Career experts might be well versed in the professional world, but they’re completely unfamiliar with your specific situation. When you’re torn between two routes, remember to factor in your priorities.
To give you an idea, imagine you’re wondering whether to eat lunch at your desk. Traditional wisdom says you should eat with your coworkers—not only will you give your brain a chance to recharge, but you’ll bond with the other people within the company.
But what if you pick up your child from daycare, meaning you need to leave your desk by 4 p.m.? If that’s the case, a 45-minute lunch every day will make it much harder to finish on time.
You should go back to your priorities. If you’re willing to do another hour of work later that night, you should eat lunch with your team members. However, if it’s important to you that you stop working once you go home, eating lunch at your desk would be the better decision.
The takeaway: Your priorities should ultimately dictate your choices.
With this two-step plan, you can distinguish the career rules worth following from the ones you should ignore.
About Signature Consultants, LLC
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the seventh consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is now the 14th largest IT staffing firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 26 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.