Six Myths About Today's Workplace

The new workplace demands new rules for success, yet people continue to get outdated advice based on persistent workplace myths.
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Each generation revolutionizes something. Today's younger generation is revolutionizing work. The goals people have, their values and opportunities have all changed drastically in the last 10 years. The new workplace demands new rules for success, yet people continue to get outdated advice based on persistent workplace myths.

These myths about today's workplace are adapted from my new book, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success.

#1. Job hopping ruins your resume.
Job hopping is one of the best ways to sustain passion and personal growth in your career. It also helps you build a network quickly and allows you to build your skill set faster than if you worked in the same job year after year. The learning curve is always highest at the beginning.

And here's some good news for hoppers: Most people will have eight jobs between ages 18 and 32. This means most young workers are job hopping. So hiring managers have no choice but to hire job hoppers. Ride this wave and try a lot of jobs out yourself. Job hopping could be the key to building strong careers.

#2. Getting a promotion is good for you.
Promotions aren't created with you in mind -- they're created with the company in mind. The company creates a ladder and tells you to climb it. But you need to pick the steps that are right for you. You deserve a customized career, so be wary of all promotions.

Most people who are good at their non-management jobs won't excel as leaders. It takes a very specific personality type to be better as a leader than as the worker who's actually doing the work. The irony is that people who are conscientious about getting their work done are promoted into leadership positions that don't value conscientiousness so much as being open to new ideas.

Also, the average salary increase is four percent. Is that going to change your life in any meaningful way? Definitely not. This is why the idea of getting a promotion is so last century. Instead, negotiate for training, mentoring, or flex time. These are all things that will really improve your life and your career.

#3. You'll be happier if you have a job you like.
The correlation between your happiness and your job is overrated. The most important factors, by far, are your optimism levels and your personal relationships. If you are a pessimist, a great job can't overcome that. (Think of the jerks at the top.) And if you have great friends and family, you can probably be happy even if you hate your job (imagine a garbage collector who's in love).

So a job could make you unhappy, if it's a terrible job. But when it comes to really being happy, you need solid personal relationships and a job that doesn't interfere with you enjoying them.

#4. The glass ceiling still exists.
The glass ceiling is gone, not because women crashed through, but because people are not looking up anymore. Life above the glass ceiling is 100-hour weeks, working for someone else, and no time for friends and family. Life above the glass ceiling is essentially about bribery. The company pays a lot of money in exchange for the employee giving up most of their time. Young people today think their time is worth too much to agree to something like that.

And it's not only women who are saying no to the ladder: Men are as well. People want to customize success for themselves, not climb someone else's rungs. So if no one is climbing to the top, the glass ceiling isn't keeping anyone down.

#5. Going to grad school open doors.

Grad school generally makes you less employable, not more. For example, people who get a graduate degree in the humanities would have had a better chance of surviving the Titanic than getting a tenured teaching job.

And unless you are going to a top business school at the beginning of your career, you should not stop working to get the degree. Go to night school because you will not make up for the loss of income with the extra credential.

Law school is one of the only graduate degrees that makes you more employable. Unfortunately it makes you more employable in a profession where people are more unhappy. Law school rewards perfectionism, and perfectionism is a risk factor for depression. Lawyers have little control over their work and hours, because they are at the beck and call of clients, and many are constantly working with clients who have problems lawyers cannot solve. These two traits in a job -- lack of control over workload and compromised ability to reach stated goals -- are the two biggest causes for burnout in jobs.

#6. Work hard and good things will come

You'll actually be rewarded only if you're likable. People get hired for their qualifications, but they get promoted because people like working with them. So spend your days trying to figure out what people need and what people want, and how you can help them. Empathy makes you likable.

The people who don't want to have to deal with kindness will complain. But for most of us, it's a big relief to know that the workplace of the new millennium demands more kindness and respect than ever before. This is a workplace that rewards being nice rather than being a genius. The people who will complain about this situation will feel that the niceness isn't genuine. The people who are genuinely nice will not complain.

Put yourself in the latter category and be grateful we're living in the new millennium with a new workplace. It's an opportunity for you to shine in your best light and get what you want most for your life.

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