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January 12, 2007

News & Opinion: Books for 20-Somethings: Part 1

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 8:45 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

This is the first in a series of blog posts I plan to write about books for new recruits and fresh-out-of-college employees. I think these books can be beneficial to both 20-somethings and the people who employ them. It discusses the issues new recruits face and provides strategies for high, quality performance.
Here I extract a few key messages from New Recruit to High Flyer by simply going through the Table of Contents and finding something that stands out in each chapter.
I guess I'm the "New Recruit" over here at 8cr. Lucky Employee #13. I've had a few professional jobs before, but I know there's always something new to learn. What I provide below are the tidbits that really stuck out to me in each chapter.
1. Attitude
"Adopt a genuinely proactive and can-do approach"

[The author goes into detail about what this means. He translates the phrases like "Be more proactive" and "Make it happen" by explaining exactly what managers mean (but sometimes find difficult to express).]
2. Adopt a systematic approach
"Methodically save and file electronic documents"

[Amen. I have gone into positions where the previous employee systematically and consistently labeled files, and boy was it easy to locate stuff.]
3. Develop into an excellent research analyst
"The essential quantitative methods"

[I love this; Karseras provides a crash course in the most important things to know about quantitative analysis and research reporting. I'll admit that I have no idea how to compound average growth rates--but if I ever need to, I'll know just where to find a step-by-step guide.]
4. Learn business communication skills 1: Speaking and writing effectively
"Proof everything"

[Amen again. I might be overly sensitive this (I was a technical writing major), but nothing is more frustrating than receiving a professional document with errors. While it's really not enough to simply run spell check, please, at least do that!]
5. Learn business communication skills 2: The 10 key areas
"4 -- Speaking over the telephone"

[Why is this still so hard for so many young people? Is our online identity hindering our ability to have successful face-to-face or voice-to-voice relationships? Perhaps…]
6. Becoming a great project and people manager
"Understand your boss"

[Knowing your boss's priorities, preferences, and personal stressors can help you line up your efforts.]
7. Build your network
"Building broad networks"

[Try working with someone outside your comfort zone. Complacency and staleness happen when we get stuck in a rut of working with the same people and services. Whether inside or outside your organization, the author recommends broadening the group of people you regularly have contact with.]
8. Find your mentors
"Do you have professional respect?"

[I think it's easy to latch onto a person because you like his or her style, personality, or interests outside of work. But do you have professional respect for that person? If you were in his or her position, would you do the job the same way?]
9. Become politically savvy
"Organizational mission and values"

[This is what I look for whenever I start a new job or project. While they're sometimes corny and often ill-crafted, mission or value statements can act as a compass for an organization. It's something to go back to and ask, are we doing that? Should we be doing that? If not, how can we describe what we should be doing? If new recruits demonstrate understanding of an organization's mission, they appear to be a better fit for the position and are more likely to impress their bosses.]

My only criticism of the book is its subtitle; I think the advice provided here is valuable for more than fast-tracking a career. Every college graduate should receive one of these on their way out the door. This is common-sense advice on how to become a better employee, and we could all use a reminder--whether we're the new recruit or the person working with one.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.