Thank you for picking up this book. It has the potential to change your life. Everything that happens to you from this point on can be different. You can have a different outcome, a different future—different from other workers, and different from the other you, the one who didn’t pick up this book, the one who didn’t try to maneuver for promotion.
This little book went around the world in the media, and was named career management book of the year in Joyce Lain Kennedy’s nationally syndicated column, Careers Now. The award-winning career portal QuintCareers named me a “Career Mastermind” because of this book. When you register that you have accepted a job offer at Columbia Business School’s MBA program, they hand you this book. Many other graduate and undergraduate programs use the book in the same way. “You got a job? Great. Now use this book to create a reputation and get promoted.” I deeply appreciate career centers and all that they do for students. Thousands upon thousands of you, readers from around the world, have used this book to achieve your goals, and I look forward to each and every one of your emails and stories. Your success is eternally gratifying to me.
The tips from the book that seemed to resonate the most, according to your reviews and in your letters and emails, were these:
• A promotion is never a reward, it’s a prediction.
• Irreplaceable people cannot be promoted, ever.
• There is a structural bias in favor of hiring from outside rather than promoting from within, and you must provide certain specific assurances to overcome that bias.
You’ll see these, and much, much more, in the following pages.
The first edition was a bit of a risk. My editors weren’t sure if it made sense to write a book just for top performers and highly ambitious people. I believed that there was plenty of reason to do it. First of all, the majority of workers don’t read any career books at all, so an author is automatically writing for the top half of all careerists. But I knew there were smart, ambitious people out there who could put these principles into play, who didn’t need the kind of rudimentary advice in other guides, who didn’t need to pay money to read advice like this: “Polish your shoes.” I wrote this book for smart, ambitious, hard-working, accomplished contributors. It’s the opposite of remedial. It’s about optimizing
your career experience.
The tips and techniques that made this book a success did not come from me. They came from the highly ambitious people I met in my career coaching business. I spent twenty years studying what fast-track careerists do, and I have distilled their
advice, and their
strategies and techniques, into this tome. I am merely the vessel. The content comes from the real experts, that is, people who get promoted, again and again, throughout their careers.
By the way, you do not need to decide to become a fast-track careerist to use the techniques in this book to solve a career problem. You may not become one of those people who will move to Outer Siberia if it will lead to career advancement, or who will turn your entire private life over to a concierge so you can grind out insane hours to win a promotion. You can use these techniques at will, ad hoc, when and how you need them, to best a rival, fix a problem with your boss, improve your reputation, and so on. The techniques work when and how you choose to deploy them. I invite you, however, to push your limits. The fast-track careerists are onto something. If you love your job, you’re pretty likely to like your life. Most of the fast-track careerists who gave me tips for this book love to work, and they love their
The other source of information for this book came from human resources professionals, the people who have to decide whom to promote and whom to pass over, whom to offer a stretch assignment and whom to reassign into a less responsible role. Some of the best warnings about what not
to do came from them, the most important of which is: Don’t go over your boss’s head without her permission, ever (see chapter 6).
Young people, in particular, don’t seem to get this warning, and it is just as sound advice today as it was a generation ago. Sure, you can email anyone in America today and, yes, we do have the First Amendment, but a lack of consideration of why this is a rule will land you in big trouble with the one person who most controls your destiny, your boss. Mess this one up and you’ll not be needing a promotion, you’ll be needing a new job. Many readers wrote to me about this advice from the first edition, and expressed appreciation for it being so forcefully presented. “I get it, now,” they said.
There was something missing from the first edition, however, which became glaringly obvious when Sheryl Sandberg released her bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead
. There really are gender differences in play at work. Sandberg meant to throw down a gauntlet and respark the feminist movement. I think she has changed the face of career planning, and changed the center of gravity toward individual women and their choices and away from large social forces. In other words, I think she has established that women can choose and act within a system rather than be acted upon by that system. She did a wonderful job, a public service, and it is certainly a public service she did not have
to do. No billionaire has to write a book, let me assure you. You have to read Lean In
and you have to check out the movement she launched at leanin.org and hundreds of websites and blogs that are inspired by this work.
I have woven some of these concepts into this book here and there, but I have also crafted an entirely new chapter about women in the workplace, chapter 11, “Women: Take Control of Your Career!” Whether you are a woman, work with women, or have important women in your life, I hope you will take something from it.
The flip side of this is that I discovered there are still some Neanderthal young men out there. I thought they were a dying breed, but my correspondents and certain news items assure me they still exist. I put a rather strong warning beginning on page 43 about that, which I consider part of acknowledging gender differences in the workplace. Again, whether you are a young man, work with young men, or care about a young man, this is an absolutely critical piece for them to grasp. Apparently, social networks and the education
system have failed to provide this absolutely critical piece of information. And, by the way, I do consider this remedial—remedial but necessary.
Finally, in this edition I have beefed up my coverage of what to do if your career stalls. I have a full chapter on career repair, chapter 10, “Know How to Repair Your Career,” beginning on page 159. As part of this, I have improved my coverage of what to do about the crazy and mean people you may have the pleasure to encounter at work. I explicate a career repair system that includes more about when and how to change jobs to advance, which is not part of the other chapters. One gets promoted inside a company, but sometimes you have to give yourself a promotion by abandoning your current employer and seeking a better opportunity elsewhere. If you suspect your career needs repair—for example, you are way more than one promotion away from where you belong—you might start with that chapter first, then restart the book from the beginning.
Readers like you have improved the book, and I hope you will give
me your stories to improve the next edition (firstname.lastname@example.org).
My very best wishes for your continued success,
Excerpted from Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't, and Why, Second Edition by Donald Asher. Copyright © 2014 by Donald Asher. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.