Many women work for small businesses then attempt to move into a corporate position. The transition is easiest for those who master certain unspoken rules of the game. The six most important rules are:
1. Pay attention to titles. Fairly or not, corporate colleagues judge each other’s importance to the organization based on titles.
2. Know the job’s responsibilities now. Before accepting a corporate position, it is critical to understand exactly what the job involves and how success will be measured.
3. Know what you want next. It can be helpful to develop a personal career development plan, and then seek opportunities aligned with it.
4. Watch your image. In the corporate world, appearances and personal image matter a great deal.
5. Keep the confidential “confidential.” Discretion is highly valued in large companies, and the ability to control information is key to earning trust.
6. Have patience with the process. It is important to respect the protocols of the organization — even if they do not immediately make sense.
In addition to knowing the best ways to behave, corporate women also need to know what behaviors to avoid. These include:
*Making stupid excuses. No one has sympathy for work victims. Anyone who needs answers should ask questions, not wait until a project is overdue and then blame it on lack of information.
*Missing deadlines. Getting work done on time is fundamental to earning respect.
*Poor meeting preparation. Colleagues do not appreciate when documents are delivered at the last minute.
*Being tit-for-tat on time and money. It is not helpful to think in terms of what the company should pay back, but rather be willing to let small expenses or time overages go.
*Unresponsiveness. It is rude to ignore emails or phone calls.
*Being the center of one’s own jokes. Self-deprecating humor reinforces negative perceptions.
*Missing the small stuff. Even in a big organization, small details matter.
New grads face distinctive challenges. In particular, they must prove themselves on two key dimensions:
1. Communication. Studies show that up to 93 percent of communication is nonverbal. This means that overreliance on email or other online media is a major mistake for young professionals who need to forge effective connections with other people.
2. Critical thinking and problem solving. Getting information or answers fast — for example, from Google — is no substitute for generating original ideas and critically assessing situations. Bosses are impressed by creativity and hard work, not by regurgitation.
Additionally, a new grad must demonstrate a strong work ethic. Managers will expect her to put in the time and display the commitment necessary to succeed in her field.