Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review: "Getting Ahead" Will Jumpstart Your Career

Joel A. Garfinkle's Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level is a great tool for those who have honed their skills and yet promotions and recognition are not running to their door.

Garfinkle's three steps are Improve Perception, Increase Visibility, and Exert Influence. I found myself at first arguing with some of his specific prescriptions, such as speaking first and often at meetings, and then conceding that he has a point when it comes to the ways in which competence and dominance are perceived. His suggestion that you directly ask others, such as your boss, to become advocates for your advancement also raises a minor caveat - some bosses I've encountered would have used that as a basis for thwarting and not assisting a career - and yet Garfinkle's overall program to jumpstart careers is sound and long overdue; in fact, it is excellent.

His book explores the subtle elements that can make or break careers, such as gaining allies or managing your boss. Interspersed are case examples and direct questions (How wise do people perceive you to be?) that can spur needed introspection. Unlike some authors who unfold a series of vague notions, Joel Garfinkle gives plenty of specifics along with creative strategies (I loved Keith Ferrazzi's job acceptance condition at Deloitte Consulting) and each chapter has a summary and action steps.

Although Getting Ahead would make a great present for people just entering the workforce, I would also highly recommend it for seasoned employees who find themselves either blocked or adrift. As I pondered Garfinkle's advice, arguing here and cheering there, I could think of a variety of ways to apply the lessons to team and individual coaching. I could also see my own blunders.

Getting Ahead is a book to read and re-read because it will not only get you on the right track, it will help to keep you there.

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