Six surefire moves for the on-board game

Well, the economy has gotten better — at least temporarily. This means that many people are starting new jobs. Here are some tips for making sure that you on-board correctly.

1). Keep your big mouth shut. My mother used to say, “The wise old owl sat on the oak, the more he heard the less he spoke, the less he spoke the more he heard, now let us all imitate this wise old bird.” She said it to shut me up, but it is good advice, nonetheless.

Reduce by at least 50 percent the volume of words coming out of your mouth, especially if you’re an extrovert. Your job for at least your first 90 days on the job is to watch and listen. Watch and see who has the real power in the company. Listen to others. Only after 90 days should you offer any opinions. Then, offer them cautiously. Most people talk too much and listen too little.

2). Don’t stop networking. The biggest mistake new employees make is to stop networking. They get all comfy and cozy in their new jobs and forget the lesson that they should have learned at their last job, namely that they can be unemployed in the blink of an eye. The way to prevent long-term unemployment again is to be incredibly well networked. So get to networking events. Continue to network on LinkedIn (more on this below) and keep adding people to your circle of acquaintances. This way, when (not if, but when) you get laid off again, you’ll have a month-long job search instead of a year or two in job search mode.

3). Play politics well. Learn a bit about playing the political game well, this time, so when the lay-off decisions come, you are less likely to be chopped. Form alliances wisely. Say as little as possible. Be friendly, but don’t befriend anyone. Playing politics is part of any job. Do it well.

4). Expand your network on LinkedIn and other Social Media. I sent an email to a woman whose business my connections would have helped tremendously to ask permission to invite her on LinkedIn. She did something very short-sighted, and sent me an email saying she only connected with people she knew. This was not bright. If she only connects with people she knows, she is not expanding her network.

Don’t be short-sighted as this woman was. Accept all LinkedIn invitations, Facebook invitations, and so on, unless you have a very specific good reason not to accept someone. Get off your high horse about having to know someone. Open up your network for new possibilities. Remember that there are no strangers — only friends you haven’t met yet. And one of those friends you haven’t met yet might be your next boss, next best friend, next spouse, or next referral to the job of your dreams. And, by the way, feel free to invite me. I’ll accept.

5). Keep looking for your next job. Not actively, but keep your ears and mind open. Both ears and brains are like parachutes. They work better when open, and, if closed, cause you to make a messy stain on the sidewalk as your career tanks.

Companies are not loyal to you. They’ll toss you out on your behind anytime it serves their purposes. So why should you be loyal to them, hmmm? I don’t recommend job hopping because it looks bad on your résumé, but neither do I recommend that you turn down a clearly great opportunity because you’re loyal to a company. Assume the attitude that you’re always looking for a job. If laid off, you’ll know what jobs are available, and can get one.

6). Look like a company booster. Spend your first year showing what a good, loyal employee you are, even as you are quietly keeping your ears open for other opportunities. The trick here is to look like the perfect company person, while you’re really looking out for yourself, your career and your family. But as long as you’re at your new company, you are a company person…at least in appearance. Wear company branded attire when possible. Spout the company line. But don’t believe it.

These are a few tips to help you survive your new job. The best tip I can give you, however, is “Watch your back.” You have both allies and enemies you don’t even know yet. Don’t give ammunition to those who want to, for their own unfathomable purposes, derail your career. And don’t be the one who does it to yourself.

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