The Unwritten Career Rules You Need to Know

Updated: May 6


The Unwritten Career Rules You Need to Know

Starting a new job can be overwhelming. There’s so much to learn about your new role, your team, the boss, and the company. Your focus is on doing a great job and proving to your boss that they made the right decision by hiring you over everyone else who interviewed. The expectations are set and you have a grasp on what your responsibilities will be, but there are other things you need to be aware of that aren’t written in a job description or employee handbook. How do you really stand out as a superstar employee? Should you wear jeans because everyone else is? Whether you’re new in your role or looking to step your game up, here are 5 things to know to elevate your brand. 


  1. YOU have to own your career. When it comes to making important career decisions, you are the only one who can decide what’s best for you. Of course there will be managers and peers but how well you perform, what your next move will be, and your professional development is your responsibility.  Like I said in Reader's Digest, it's not the manager's responsibility to tell you what your next move will be.

  2. You were hired for your human talents. I tell my staff all the time, there is a difference between knowing mechanics and knowing concepts. I know that you can record a debit and a credit in a journal entry. Do you know what they mean is the key. I hope you can spot an error, which is great but how did it happen? How do you fix it going forward? Excel is the king of making mechanics easy. Don’t be afraid to show what your talents are. You never know what it could lead to. I was once asked to record notes for all of my team’s staff meetings after my boss missed a meeting and I shared my notes with her. I was an accountant and “transcribing staff meetings” was not in my job description, but I added value to my team just by doing something that I was already doing anyway. 

  3. It doesn't matter if "we've always done it this way.” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this at multiple levels within an organization. Whether it’s a seasoned employee training a new hire or asking the AP team why it takes 44 days to pay 1 invoice. Times change. Technologies change. Customer habits change. If the way it’s being done is no longer working, figure out how to re-engineer the process to make it better. To do this, you have to understand how things work so use your human talents to create a better way to get things done. One thing you never want to be is complacent at work. There is always something to do. There is always an opportunity to learn something new. 

  4. Your personal dress code matters. Your outfit speaks before you do. Even in companies with relaxed dress codes, you may notice management or those who aspire to be managers adopting a different dress code. Even with wearing jeans everyday, you will see suits and blouses and business attire. Partly because of job requirements - if you have a client-facing role or an executive representing the company. Being clear on your career goals and dress according to the job you want to have.

  5. When you're afraid to speak up in the meeting, speak up. Why not? This human talents theme keeps popping up here. The other people in the room want to hear from you. Your idea could be just what management needs to hear to solve the problem that required the meeting in the first place. 

It takes a while to get all these things figured out so don’t try to do them all at once. Understanding the culture of your organization and also how to do these things with tact will prevent your efforts from backfiring on you. 


If you’re looking for your next big job and want to make sure you leave a good impression at your interview, download this interviewing guide to help you prepare. There are questions you should ask to  make sure the job is right for you. I’ve also included questions about culture, professional development and ways to break the ice with the person who could be your new boss. Check it out here


~N


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