One of the worst things for your career and personal well-being is to work a dead-end job for people that don’t give a darn about you. You should spend as little time as possible working for people that don’t care about what they do and don’t care about you. You need to spend as much time as possible working with and for remarkable leaders that work hard to continuously improve themselves, their organization, and the people they have been given the privilege to lead.
Most of you will not get your dream job right out of school. That’s OK. Whatever job you get, pour yourself into it, learn, and do your best to improve yourself and consistently exceed the expectations of your employer. As long as you can learn and improve, stick with that job until a better one opens up.
But don’t let yourself get stuck working for jerks. If you hang around them too long, you could get “infected” with their disease. One of the worst things for your personal brand is a reputation for being an arrogant asshole, especially if you earned that reputation while leading others.
In a very professional manner, you will need to be able to tell those jerks you work for that while they might be able to get away treating others like crap, it just does not work for you. Thank them for the opportunity they gave you (to learn how NOT to lead!), then shake the dust off your feet and move on.
It takes careful planning to avoid getting yourself trapped in a bad job. While you are still in school, start saving your “go to hell” money. You will need to save enough money to be able to survive at least 6 months of unemployment while you look for a better job. If you can’t find that dream job, don’t worry. Get the best job you can get working for the best leaders you can find. Interview them as much as they interview you. Do your homework and find out if they have a reputation for developing people or for running people into the ground. A lesser job is not necessarily a bad job, especially if you can work for good people and continue to develop yourself as a leader.
If you want to become remarkable, you need to expose yourself as much as possible to remarkable people. Watch what they do, learn from them, and then take the best of what they do and incorporate it into your own personal brand.
Part of becoming remarkable is having the courage, wisdom, and resources to be able to tell a few people to “go to hell” from time to time during your career.
Bret Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Bret practices personal branding at his website Positive Organizational Behavior where he blogs about leadership, followership, and personal branding. His purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” You can also find Bret on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.