Posted on: Monday, February 6, 2006
'Apprentice' did leave viewers with a few gems of career advice
By Diane Stafford
Knight Ridder News Services
We are focusing on "gifts" from Donald Trump and Martha Stewart.
Actually, the gifts — nuggets of career advice — probably are best credited to Mark Burnett, creator of "The Apprentice" shows, and the workplace "realities" he chose to air.
Never forget: This was television. We saw highlights and lowlights, not the day-to-day interactions that usually go a lot further in making and cementing workplace reputations.
Nonetheless, for viewers who didn't get sucked into Trump's four seasons, or Stewart's single one, here are some takeaways useful for any job hunter or worker:
If you don't have a passion for the job, it's hard to shine. Figure out what pushes your button and go for it. You'll do better and be happier in the long run.
If you get an assignment that isn't your cup of tea, don't shut down. Do your best and then move on. Don't whine or make excuses.
Hold your tongue, even when an arch-enemy gets the boot. You never know when your workplace paths might cross again or how that person might help or hurt your career in the future.
Build alliances. Even if you're doing it for selfish reasons, you need a group of people in the workplace who will work with you to achieve specific goals.
Don't presume familiarity with the boss. He or she is still the boss, and probably has an ego coupled with the ability to detect ingratiating moves. Be respectful and somewhat deferential, even if you want to scream.
Promote yourself without savaging others. When competing for a scarce resource — a job or a promotion — you'll win best by making a positive case for yourself rather than a negative one for your competition.
Know your strengths and be able to brag about them without looking like you're bragging. Don't count on mentors or friends making the case for you. You need to be able to be your own public relations agency.
Figure out who's who in office politics and who wields the power, then align yourself with the "in" crowd.
Develop a good barometer about what's important and what's trivial. Don't pick a fight or belabor small indignities; save your energy for arguing about or defending the important stuff.
Walk the talk and look the part. Wearing clothes or doing things that make you stand out may get you noticed, but if you don't fit in with the organization's general style and behaviors, you'll lose out.
Be able to work in a team environment. All the brilliance or creativity in the world won't help you in most workplaces if others don't want to work with you.