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The Unspoken Rules of a New Job

Landing that first job after college graduation isn’t easy, and keeping it could be a challenge as well. Gorick Ng, the author of “The Unspoken Rules: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right,” shares some important advice. He believes that the road to failure on the job begins by not demonstrating the “three Cs” of Competence, Commitment and Compatibility, and he described what this negative behavior looks like.

Here are five things employees should NOT do if they want to be successful in their new careers:

1. Sit there and wait for your manager to tell you what to do, and do no more than that. Consequences: You are seen as someone who is not competent, and needs to be micromanaged at every step.

2. Don’t do what you say you will do fully, accurately and promptly. Consequences: You will be seen as unreliable and not committed. If people can’t trust you to do the little things in a timely manner, they will not trust you with more important responsibilities. Keep people waiting long enough and you will be looking for a new job.

3. Believe that your good work will speak for itself without getting others’ buy-in ahead of time. Consequences: By not keeping others informed and consulted, you are rolling the dice on whether your ideas will be approved when they come up for discussion. Build allies around the room, in the team and across the organization so that no one is blindsided. The best way to get an idea accepted is to obtain approval before the meeting — and not in the middle of the meeting.

4. Fail to understand how promotions are determined. Consequences: You may feel unfairly treated at best, and at worst, the victim of discrimination or some other form of illegal workplace behavior.

5. Don’t understand what it means to be “professional.” Consequences: Each work environment has its own definition of what is professional and acceptable. Overshoot this invisible zone of professionalism and you may be perceived as uptight. Undershoot it and you may be perceived as immature.

Ng concludes his advice by saying, “School is about keeping up. Work is about stepping up. In the workplace it is not enough to just meet deadlines. You must go above and beyond expectations.”

Stevie Swain of Swain Consulting, offers financial advise for people getting started in their careers to those looking forward to retirement. Contact her at



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