5 Career Rules You Should Never Break

Following a set of rules can be stifling and may even make you want to rebel. However, there are some rules you should try your best to keep. This is especially true if you want to get ahead in your career. Adhering to certain guidelines can help you make boss moves that will propel you to the next level.

If you want to keep moving up the ladder, you’ll want to make sure you’re not disregarding essential work rules. Here are five career rules you should never break.

1. Always say “thank you”

Handshake between two colleagues in office

Handshake between two colleagues in office | iStock.com/Saklakova

A simple “thank you” can take you far in life. Show appreciation when someone shares their time or resources with you. One of the best times to demonstrate your thanks, although many job seekers miss this one, is after a job interview. It takes a hiring manager time to sift through resumes and interview dozens of candidates. Show your interviewer that you recognize this by sending a quick thank-you card or email. You’ll automatically stay top of mind when it’s time to make a final decision.

Even after you’ve worked at a job for a while, don’t forget to thank your boss or co-workers for assisting you with a project or providing advice on an assignment. Author and speaker Jon Gordon said ungratefulness can contribute to a toxic work environment. In addition, lack of thanks is a top reason why people leave their jobs. Stand out from the rest by being thankful. “Gratitude and appreciation is essential for a healthy work environment. In fact, the number one reason why people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. A simple thank you and a show of appreciation can make all the difference,” said Gordon on his website.

2. Develop your skills

woman typing on laptop

Woman typing on laptop | iStock.com/StockRocket

Are you a clock watcher? Just doing your job and going home won’t be enough to sustain your career. Employers are constantly evaluating whether their employees add value to the company. If you refuse to brush up on your current skills or learn new ones, you aren’t going to be worth keeping around. Enroll in continuing education courses and volunteer to learn new skills. When it comes to work, only the sharpest survive.

Business expert Joya Martin Cousin emphasized the harsh reality that lack of career development will only lead to stagnant pay and a career that’s going nowhere. “The days of being promoted at work solely based on tenure are long gone. If you allow yourself to grow comfortable, performing only the tasks you were trained to do when you were hired, then you might as well make up your mind to be overworked and underpaid for the rest of your working life,” said Cousin in a LinkedIn article.

3. Treat others the way you want to be treated

Business colleagues working together

Business colleagues working together | iStock.com

This advice goes for both work and life. No matter how important you become at work, always be kind. You never know when someone on a lower career rung will become your co-worker or even surpass you and become your boss. Treating others well, and being generally likeable at work is important not just because it makes things more pleasant for everyone, but also because the way you treat others could mean the difference between getting promoted or eventually getting the ax. If no one likes you, they won’t want to work with you.

4. Follow up

business man reading on his mobile phone

business man reading on his mobile phone | iStock.com/imtmphoto

Whether you’re applying for a job or you sent an email and haven’t heard back on something related to your current job, it always pays to follow up. Never assume everything is OK. Half the time everything is not OK, and it will take some time to make the necessary corrections. Failure to follow up can make your work life a lot more complicated than it needs to be. You can avoid a messy work situation by taking a few minutes out of your day to make sure everything has been handled.

5. Dress for the job you want

man in suit and sunglasses

Man in suit and sunglasses | iStock.com

Go one step further than dressing for the job you want — always look good, no matter what job you want. Just remember to keep dressing well once you do finally get the job. It’s not time to relax once you’ve hit your goal. Your managers and co-workers will be watching, so always look your best. And that means not only making sure your clothes look good, but also paying attention to details like your shoes, hands, and hair. This way, you won’t have to worry if you get pulled into an impromptu meeting or happen to run into a senior manager or the CEO of the company. First impressions count, so be presentable for whatever surprise situation you may find yourself in. Who knows, you could be standing next to your future boss in line at the local coffee shop.

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