The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career, by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew (2017)
I stumbled upon this book after reading a positive review and was very impressed. It is a well-organized and focused presentation of some of the content of themuse.com, an online career resource.
The authors understand the great challenge of the modern career: with more options and tools than ever, many people find themselves without a playbook for this complicated, non-linear career game.
This book is exactly what the subtitle states – a playbook. This means you can select from it what you need without having to read the whole thing. You can also use it as a reference from which to dive deliberately into the content at themuse.com. This may be helpful if you are like me and sometimes lose focus in glossy, bottomless websites brimming with multimedia and links.
First, read “What Color is your Parachute?”
If you have not read the classic career book “What Color is Your Parachute,” read that first. This classic career book was originally published in 1970 but the extremely dedicated author, Richard Bolles, has revised it every year since. Make sure you are reading the most recent edition! Alternatively, read one of the many spinoffs (http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/books) that may fit you more precisely.
“What Color” is wide-ranging in scope and covers pretty much every practical thing you need to do in the job hunt or career pivot. This includes self-assessments, a guide to interviewing, and many other resources. Read this and then return to “The New Rules of Work.”
Read only the sections that are most relevant to you (or, read only the gray emphasis boxes)
Just like “What Color is Your Parachute,” some sections will be more relevant than others. Read only these. For an even more abridged experience, read only the gray emphasis boxes. These boxes contain the most concise, bulleted content. In fact, some of them are simply brief articles from themuse.com. But they are the curated ones.
You’ll find highly actionable and practical advice
The authors drive home the point that you must develop your own personal brand to present to potential employers. This brand will stay with you much longer than your average employment stint. I appreciate this well. In fact, this blog is my way of developing a brand and sharing knowledge with people in my exact situation and with potential career connections. However, this blog was originally inspired by “What Color is Your Parachute” and from my 11 years writing a personal blog.
The résumé writing section stood out to me as particularly practical and concise. This section also points you to resources (such as templates) at the website that you may find useful. It may motivate you to replace your Microsoft Office standard templated résumé (guilty!). One tip: get rid of “References available upon request” line.
Tap into the resources at themuse.com
This site is rich with new career content each day from a network of freelancers and from paid staff. There are portals to paid courses and coaching. And the site partners with employers who recruit through the site.
One problem is separating between sponsored content and professional advice. Since much of this this site is free, you are not necessarily the customer – the advertisers and employers are. The site is rife with embedded content. If you find a way to use this site in a focused way, or if you have a success story from one of their paid modules, I would love to hear about it!
One criticism: the emphasis on LinkedIn
Authors such as Cavoulacos and Minshew seem to believe that having a detailed, up-to-date LinkedIn profile, and being an active user of this site, is a necessity in being considered for an interview. As members of the recruitment/talent sphere, they are no doubt heavy users of this LinkedIn. They seem to think that since it’s free, there is no downside.
But there are many reasons not to join LinkedIn, including the following:
- It will mine your email addresses and spam your contacts.
- It was hit with at least one major data breach (in 2012). Your information there may not be secure and is definitely not private.
- Garbage content, meaningless endorsements, and fake profiles abound.
- Most important for me: it is a potentially bottomless timesuck! With a career blog (such as the one I am writing right now), I know how much effort I put in and I can see the results. With LinkedIn, you might feel you need to actively cruise the site and hit up your network for many hours a month. You many never know how much is enough, and you may never know what benefit you are getting from it.
If you don’t want to join LinkedIn, don’t! It is not the necessity that so many authors claim it is. And keep in mind that you can access a lot of articles and other content on LinkedIn without creating an account.
Some great advice that I highlighted:
- Chapter 4 covers the absolutely essential task of building your personal brand. The authors walk you through the five steps for building a successful brand: determine your brand attributes, draft your branding statement, refine your profiles, create your personal website, and activate your brand.
- The résumé editing checklist in Chapter 7. “Does this sell you as the perfect candidate for the types of roles you’re seeking? Does the top third of your résumé serve as a hook to get the hiring manager to read more? Could anything benefit from examples? Does the page look visually appealing?” Lastly, submit the résumé to the employer as a PDF, not a Word document!
- Chapter 7 addresses how to rework not-so-relevant experience into something tailored to the job.
- Chapter 8 provides tried-and-true interviewing advice, along with some good information on video/Skype interviews and a worksheet and checklist. The authors provide advice on behavioral interview questions and an expanded section on video/Skype interviewing. I find that the tactile activities are the ones that help me to reflect and to retain information the best.
- Chapter 9 goes into detail about salary negotiation, which is a mysterious and anxiety-inducing topic for many people. The authors detail tactics as well as other considerations besides salary such as scheduling flexibility, job title, continuing education, vacation time, lifestyle perks, and moving expenses.
- The last four chapters are a guide to the modern workplace. The content mirrors what you will find on the website: “The Trick to Communicating Hard Messages,” “21 Unwritten (New) Rules of Running a Meeting,” “Really Struggling to Cross Off Those To-Dos? Use Your Feelings (Yep, Seriously).” Many of these are just blog-like articles and listicles from the website. But I happen to love this stuff and I added the blog to my Feedly news feed. And each topic, such as inbox management, skill development, and collaboration, is a world unto itself. You know where to go for more: the million Youtube videos, blogs and books that flesh out these concepts in exhaustive detail.
What to read next
If you have a suggestion for my next career or Quality book, let me know! Or stay tuned for my next review.