Work smart – how to succeed at a great company

I sucked at my first job. It was 1992 and I had just been hired during a recession at Metropolitan Bank. Barely out of training, my boss Michael called me into his office and explained that my coworker Jean had blamed me for missing her deadline.

What I learned working for Michael and in the last 15 years hiring and managing my own team will help you work smart to avoid career-ending mistakes and help you succeed at a great company where the standards are high. Below, I share how you can be better than 95% of your teammates and get consistently promoted.

I just got promoted cartoonBack at the bank, when Michael reviewed my work he couldn’t tell if I had screwed up or not because my documentation was weak and unorganized. Even if I was a little humiliated to be put on probation just a couple months after starting my first permanent job, Michael turned out to be an awesome boss. What he wanted was simple and correct. He just wanted me to work smart.

It’s easy to suck at your job if you don’t know what your boss wants. Today, if you follow a lot of career experts, you’d think your boss wants you to ‘brand’ yourself. ‘Personal branding’ might be hot now, but we don’t want it. It’s a lot of crap. We crave honesty and sincerity. You’re not a corporation or a cow.

Creating a brand image or personality for yourself is empty marketing – a CYA policy that gets in the way of doing real work. Work smart and everything you do builds trust and value – you won’t need a CYA policy because you’ll always be in demand.

knowing what your boss wantsIronically, your boss doesn’t want to take time to teach you what working smart means. In fact, most bosses would have difficulty listing 20 specific teachable ways to ‘work smart’. Most will say it’s an inherent talent you’ve either have or don’t. I don’t buy it. Below you’ll find 20 ways to earn your boss’s respect and admiration for your work. So, decide for yourself if ‘working smart’ can be learned or not.

It’s not about becoming your boss’s pet. Ultimately, working smart is a step on the path to finding satisfaction in your work. Until you can match-up what you do with who you are as a person, you’re unlikely to find happiness at work. The problem with sucking at your job is that it gives you very little power to make changes.

would you like a new boss?You need some leverage to get flexibility in your career — that might mean money in the bank (also called f*ck-you money) or a good relationship with your boss and previous bosses (for references). You can get all those things by working smart. You can also quit your job and start a business (if you do, your boss is now the customer and all the lessons below still apply). This is about being effective, nothing else – about becoming a diamond in the eyes of your boss.

If you’re in a job search and want to work at a great company, the rules are the same. The only difference is that everything you write and say will be scrutinized more closely for clues as to how you will perform on the job. If you suck in the job search, we know you will suck on the job. Want to get it right? Use “The complete job search guide – how to land a job at a great company“.

The stakes are high. Twenty years ago when I was starting my career, the difference between being average and working smart was the difference between a good career and a great career. That was before the Internet. Today, working smart can make the difference between having a career and having nothing. Your competition is radically tougher today — game on!

a raise and a promotion?Your thoughts become actions so choose the advice you take to heart wisely. There’s a career expert on every corner today. Most have not built companies as I have. Most have something to sell you; I don’t. These lessons exist because I love to teach and write. OK… I also hope you’ll share these pages with your friends and use our job search engine.

You can graduate from Harvard, Princeton, or Yale and still suck at your job. They don’t teach you how to work smart at school. If you do have a fancy degree, expectations on you will be sky-high. If you don’t deliver the goods, your boss is going to think you’re overpriced and may just let you go. On the other hand, put these lessons into practice and you’ll carve your name on the world without an Ivy League degree or even without any degree at all.



1. Don’t suck at e-mail
2. Don’t suck at instant messaging
3. Want to be taken seriously? Do this.
4. Know the shortest path to succeeding in your job?
5. 2 habits that show you are trustworthy and mature
6. Is your attitude subtly toxic?
7. Don’t interrupt me
8. Don’t make me interrupt you
9. Be precise, be specific and be blunt
10. Fail to do this and you may get fired

Above and beyond: Tame your ego


1. Got ‘the ace factor’?
2. Never do this
3. How to handle your mistakes like a pro
4. 10 ways to improve your emotional intelligence
5. Are you blocking conversation (when you think you’re listening)?


1. Perform like a surgeon
2. What your boss doesn’t want to tell you (and you need to know)
3. Stop whining – take ownership
4. Show up ready for battle
5. Know yourself and follow your bliss


  1. Rules are meant for breaking, but master them first and then break them.
  2. My team knows I don’t always lead by example. I’m better at some of these than others. Especially where I’m weak, I like to see corresponding strengths in my team.
  3. Like any good boss, I hope to hire above me – to hire a team that’s smarter and better than I am!

Get the ebook!

If you liked what you read here, and think you may want to refer back to this guide later, grab the e-book version for Kindle – we’re hoping you’ll thank us with a five-star review on Amazon if you found this material helpful. The ebook also includes our job search guide.

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  • Grant Hill

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying above. I think it is very true that if you do not like your job, or do not like what you do, you will not do your job to the best of your ability. It will feel completely natural to slack off and not give 100% of your effort and this will most of the time, be extremely noticeable. I also believe that working smart can be achieved by just about anyone with a work ethic. Even if you don’t or can’t work smart initially, if you are careful enough and observant enough along the way, you can pick up different traits and start to work smart. One of these traits is to only rely on yourself in the workplace. Never rely on someone else to get something done if it is your responsibility because in the end, everyone will look out for themselves and will throw someone else under the bus before they get in trouble. Especially if someone is trying to make ends meet to support their family, they will do whatever it takes so always be careful who you trust and what you trust them with.

    On to the topic of a college degree; I agree and I also disagree with some of your points. I totally agree with your point that someone with a college degree can be overpriced in a sense and not worth hiring. I had a particular experience with this when I was working for my mom’s friend over this past summer. A majority of the guys that work for him are without college degrees and it is rare to find a guy that has one, doing the work that these guys did. However, there was one guy that the company came across and hired, thinking he would be good for the job. But, he was lazy and didn’t do the job very well although he had a college degree. The company ended up firing him and he was without a job when a ton of different guys without degrees were able to keep the same exact job. This goes to show, just because you have a college degree, that doesn’t mean that you automatically have a job by any means.

    On the other hand, it is extremely hard to be successful in this day and age without a college degree. The only way you can really be successful without a degree is if you become an entrepreneur and create a company or business that eventually thrives in the economy. Even with this, the failure rate when trying to start a business is extremely high and you generally come out of it poorer than when you went into it. It is just how the U.S. is today; if you don’t have a college degree, it is very hard to get up to the high rankings of a company or business. For example, I have a friend who’s dad is a police officer and if you want to get anywhere close to a high rank, such as a Lieutenant, within the police force, you must have a college degree. They will just not let you get past this point if you don’t have a degree and this is where I believe if you don’t have a degree in today’s world, you could be in a lot of trouble for the future.

    All in all, a great article and I enjoyed the read. Also very helpful and will keep these tips in mind as I get further into my career. Thank you.

  • Dalton Scott

    I totally agree with this, as my uncle has told me numerous times just having a degree isn’t enough. Although it is obviously a great compliment, and can provide some validity to your professional appearance, its going to take a little more to prove to a company and or a boss that you’re worth their time. To me that means always working to your best capabilities, and doing as your asked, however that doesn’t mean you should shy away from voicing your opinion, within the right time and place. Companies do value your opinions when they’re given in a respectable manner, sometimes these are where the best of ideas can come from. After all aren’t we all there for the same reason?

  • Ruth Michael

    I like this article. It is very informative and worth noting that it’s not the brand of ourselves that is most important, but being honest and sincere.

  • Carlos Herrera


    I enjoyed reading the article; it is very informative. I can relate to the “taking ownership” concept. In a previous job as a supervisor, I remember an employee who would always whine about assignments. I never understood why he always found a reason to complain about doing an assignment, even when he chose which assignment he was going to work on until know. It dawn on me that he never took ownership of anything. He always found someone else to blame for his failure. Great article, I’m sure I’ll refer to it in the future.

    Carlos Herrera

  • kassidy roberts

    This lesson is very prevalent to my experience in work. All throughout high school I worked at a deli, where I had several co-workers who didn’t know what it meant to be a good worker or to “work smart.” Many of these co-workers weren’t great workers because they didn’t know what our boss wanted, how she wanted it, and when she wanted it. And one would think, why wouldn’t they just ask the boss what to do? The problem was they didn’t care. My co-workers didn’t love their jobs, it didn’t make them happy therefor there was no motivation for them to work smart. So one after another, my boss would get fed up and fire them.

    It was very easy for me to distinguish which of my co-workers enjoyed coming into work and those who despised it. Those who enjoyed work were responsive to the boss and worked proactively. Oppositely, those who hated working would wait until they were told what to do before doing anything productive. I’m not saying that those who enjoyed their work were perfect employees, they made mistakes, but it’s the way they handled their mistakes that made the boss recognize their valuableness. As outlined in the article, those who work smart take responsibility for their actions and don’t place the blame on others.

    Working smart doesn’t mean brown nosing the boss or being their “pet”, as discussed in the article. I remember one co-worker specifically that would always brown nose the boss in attempt to earn her liking, but that’s about all she did at work. Consequentially, the boss didn’t like her, she was written up on several occasions and was eventually fired. As outlined above and shown in my personal experience, bosses like their workers to be efficient and precise rather than a pet.

    This working smart model is something I’ve never really thought about it, but it is very legitimate. I believe that these are skills that everyone is capable of learning as long as they are working in a job they enjoy.

  • ZitlalyV

    This is a good article.

    I have been working at a Hispanic cultural institution for over 2, in order to fund some of my bills for my undergraduate degree in Art History. I am not high in the hierarchal scale at all, since I am a Visitor Services and Sale Associate for weekend. However, I have done my job in a manner that has allowed my employer to lean on me whenever they need someone to take on some much needed extra hours. While this is not a dream job it allows for me to be in an art focused location. It will look great on any resumes, whenever I choose to apply for a career path to any museum or other cultural institutions.

    This job has giving me an upper hand with experience in customer service and knowledge of finances. For this job, like any job, it is important to have the basics skill of time management, always being prompt and ready. Since I have keys to the building it is my duty on weekends to, disable the alarm’s, turn on all of the lights, projections and make sure the money is still there, all before opening. Not only that, I am trusted with products lists and re-ordering of products. From the years spent, I was additionally given an internship opportunity with the Curator of Exhibition’s. The internship allowed me to explore even more so, the way in which a museum works from within. Giving me a taste of my future.

    It is smart to not just look at a job at face value, but explore underneath. Even if the job ends up being a bust, you’ve at least learned from it and can improve yourself for the future. For myself, that was not the case with this little part-time job that stemmed into a practical lesson on employment.

    Overall it is really up to the individual to work for their goals.

  • Isla Diaz

    I loved the tips for being great at your job. It provides easy and clear resources and advice in order to be the best possible employee and that can lead to better opportunities such as raises and promotions. For me, it is important to watch my attitude, not because I have a bad one, but because I can come off as to strong and don’t want that to be misconstrued. I am a leader and you have to follow when you are start working or there could be negative side effects or consequences.

    It definitely is good motivation to know that employers look for the smartest and want to hire people smarter than them and value our intelligence and give employees opportunities to shine. Reading this article gives me another set of tools that I can use to make my presence felt in the working world.

  • Sheila Shields

    What I get from this article is that when we begin in the workforce, we are young and we are learning how to apply ourselves in the business world. We have a lot to learn and will learn more and more with each job that we have.

    In my career path I have learned many factors that have helped me succeed. One of the main ones that sticks with me is that when you work for a company and you are in public, you represent the company even on your own time. If you are associated with a company and you are misbehaving in the public, you can give the company a bad reputation by your actions. In business, no one is irreplaceable. Always advise your supervisor what is going on in the event that they are in the public and are asked questions, they can be prepared to answer the questions without being caught off guard.

  • Sierra Musa

    While reading this article, I could see how I related to it. My first job was working in a kitchen over the summer. My boss would teach the basic lessons of how to cook or clean something the proper way, but then he left you go to see how you would handle the situation later, in other words the “work smart” method. I caught on very fast at my job without becoming the boss’s pet. After only three months of working there, they asked me to become a supervisor. All of my hard work was finally starting to pay off. This will be my third summer working for this company, and as the author of the article mentioned, he wants to hire people above him. In my case, I cannot hire anyone, but I can train them on how to use the equipment and I have seen people that I have taught become better at things than I am as a supervisor. I enjoyed reading this article, as a lot of it hit close to home, and gave insight into what employers are looking for.

  • AMo96

    I would say that I have had good success at the jobs that I have had. So far, I have only had basic jobs as a sandwich maker at Jimmy Johns, a cashier at Target, and a sandwich maker at Mondo’s subs, but in those jobs I believe I have done well. If I need to email my current boss/manager, I always address it correctly, and I try to be formal enough, but also concise and to the point. I do all of the things that are asked of me, and I even try to do these things before being asked.

    One thing I may need to work on a bit is facial expression with customers. I believe that I am ok with this for my current job, but once, while working at Target, I was approached by my manager who said to try to make sure I smile more. He said I often look like I am sad. This showed me that I may not have been working completely smart. Because of knowing this issue, however, I worked to having a better expression and working smarter.

  • Kevin Gladu

    The lesson that I gained from this article is that the way to succeed in life is not just to work, but to work smart. Anyone can work and work hard, but only the best will work smart. Doing so allows a person to get more done than their coworkers at a faster rate with less effort.

    An example of this is with my schoolwork. I’m currently a senior in High School, and I am also taking multiple AP classes. These classes give large amounts of coursework, homework, and study material. Yet I still have time to relax, plan out my future, and apply for scholarships. This is because I work smart, using supplementary resources, such as the internet, and more direct resources like the teacher or other classmates. Because I do these things, I can comfortably complete my AP courses with the praises of my teachers while others are struggling to even complete their classwork.

    In conclusion, this article has shown me that the key to success is to work intelligently and properly use your resources instead of simply working hard. Taking this advice can allow anyone, including myself, to easily achieve their goals, both at school and at the workplace.

  • Carol Eberhart

    I agree with the general idea of this, and I do agree that a lot of success comes from drive. The want to make more from yourself. But there are limitations to creativity. Some times being to forward could lead to downfall. Ultimately, its not about the college degree, its work ethic; common sense. Its about positivity. Having people skills, being diverse and working smart can ultimately make the difference when it comes to being a great employee or even student.

  • Sonia Mayu Taniguchi Villafan

    After reading this lesson, I can see how helpful it is to inform yourself before seeking a job. I say this because from my own experience, employers always seek for people who have the skills and knowledge that will make them good candidates for their work.

    When I was looking for a job for college, I applied to a calling center where I am still working; and I got myself prepared by doing calling jobs on the side so that I could be well prepared for this new job. And because if this preparation, I was able to get the job and start working at the beginning of my first year in college.

    I think that there is a lot more to learn in the job industry and really think this program would prepare people to find and more importantly get and keep a job. I really liked this lesson because it was really clear and I also learned that there are many things to learn in order to succees at a job such as being useful and efficieng in your job as well as being able to communicate with your superiors.

  • Cherry Lim

    “Work smart – how to succeed at a great company” by Eric Shannon was very interesting for me.
    This is because it was an article about the world we live in nowaday.
    Living a life today is very hard and distress because of a lot of task, examination, competition, and so on.
    Nice university diploma such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge do not assure our success no more.
    So, we need to have our own special merits that can distinguish ourselves from others.
    Also, I believe each of us has our unique talents and advantages that set us apart.

    For instance, I have quick wits and behave politely to others; I think these are my special strengths.
    In my case, about 10months ago, I worked at an English Kindergarten in Korea.
    I did much things at there such as making teaching materials, managing the phone, helping conversation between native English teachers and Korean students, and so on.
    I always tried to do my best not only for important things but also for trivial things.
    For example, I treated student’s parents and co-worker with civility at all times.
    Also, I cleaned the classrooms and the furniture, and arranged the books neatly before my boss ask for me.
    So I could get colleague’s and boss’s confidence, take an important part in the Kindergarten, and receive more salary.
    However, it was not my strategy to succeed, it was behaviors from the bottom of my heart.
    I really loved to clean the classrooms and desks and chairs for my young kindergarten students, and appreciated all of my co-worker and my boss for their kindness for me without prejudice.

    In conclusion, innate talents are very important to succeed; but I think great effort and heartfelt behavior are more important to succeed satisfactorily. Hence, I will do my best in my college, and future company with my special strenghts and sincere behavior even though my English skills are not perfect.

  • Vanessa Tallman

    Basically, I have gathered from this information that having a college degree does not guarantee that I will be great at my future job. In order to succeed I have to become a well-rounded person and also a hard worker. In order to be great at what I do I must always respect those around me and above me, even if we don’t always get along. I’m so glad I read this article because so many people believe that if they suffer through college for a few years they will eventually make a ton of money and absolutely love what they do. But that is not always the case. To be honest, neither of my parents have college degrees and they are well alright. College is not for everyone, but having a degree does make entering the workforce so much easier.

  • Robert De Pow

    For a while now I have heard the saying “work smart, not hard.” This didn’t really make sense to me because for all of my life people always say “work hard.” After reading this article I have made a great realization, that in order to work hard you have to work smart as well. Working smart to me means that you find the most efficient way to accomplish a task. This saves the company money and saves you time. It doesn’t matter what degree you have from college, if you are able to work smart and pick up the necessary skills quickly you will be successful in your career.

  • Christian Rosado

    In my life while still in highschool I have gathered work experiences at my dad’s Company site.
    He was basically the site manager and assigned me on the job so can I have some work experience.
    I never worked for him directly, he assigned me a crew leader or trainer. Of course, being a teen I
    was nervous and really sucked at my job. My job consisted on doing corn hand pollination, and I corrupted some pollen and screwed up some exercises. But my trainer never was mad since this happened to many trainees. He or she corrected me and showed me time and time again how it’s done. Over time I learned and worked alone since I didn’t screwed up as much as the first time. I knew what they wanted from me and it was simple. For two summers I worked at my dad’s company site and I learned a lot since then for future jobs. I’m an undergraduate student that is interested in finding a job while studying. Short term jobs like these help me for future experiences.

  • Helyn Grissom

    This article perfectly describes what it is like to build a reputation in a new job; while you might feel lost at the beginning and require some training, most bosses do not like to take the time to get you up to speed. They assume that you can read their mind, and that everything you do will be exactly as they imagine it.

    I had such experiences while working in a research lab. My supervisor would constantly assume that she had told me something, when she never had. When I would come to her with questions or results, her frustration was obvious when I had not followed the exact protocol that she had in her head. Once I noticed this pattern, learned how to “work smart,” and was proactive about making sure that we were on the same page, our working relationship significantly improved. The strategies and advice listed in this article are incredibly useful in navigating such workplace relationships, and being successful regardless of the numerous barriers.

  • Madison Wisniewski

    As a current college student on the hunt for great career opportunities, this article has been a life changer. I was always taught to just suck up to the boss instead of actually trying to be a good worker. I’ve worked in retail throughout high school and in between college semesters, and it honestly is tough. There’s a high demand for hard workers, but it’s hard to stand out. Following the rules to becoming a smart worker really isolated myself and my skills from my coworkers in a positive way. Now, being able to tuck this knowledge under my belt for future applications and internships, I can already tell I’ll be more successful in the workforce.

  • Preston Lingle

    Working smart is obviously important in today’s job market, as mentioned in the article, “Today, working smart can make the difference between having a career and having nothing.” With there being a very tough competition for jobs, especially for specific positions like video editor, graphic design, public relations dealing with talent, etc, one job might be sought after by multiple people, meaning you have to have a very strong portfolio/resume when you apply, as well as have a very good interview.

    Another topic discussed in the article was meeting expectations; if you’re hired on to do public relations, let’s say, and you can’t work well in a group, or clients don’t like you, the boss of the company will probably get rid of you. Being confident in your abilities while also being well-versed in working with others is another very vital tool.

    The biggest issue, though, it the process of actively getting a job. When I entered the workforce almost four years ago, it was impossible for me to get a job because they all wanted work experience…yet I didn’t have that because no one would hire me. It was a very frustrating process, yet eventually I landed a job at a Rec Center and have worked there ever since. However, being a janitor at a Rec Center doesn’t translate well into what I want to do, Game Design and Video Production. This means that even though I may have the degree, I won’t have the experience working in a company, putting me back at the bottom amiss all the other people who also have degrees, but might have years of experience over me.

    In terms of working smart, I never needed a class on it or even a lecture in how to work smart; I just did my job. I never even had a personal finance class until my senior year of high school (last year) and I pretty much knew everything in the class already because it was pretty common sense. Yet, I’ve worked with people who my boss has hated because they are awful workers who don’t listen, are not very reliable, and have no sense of personal finance at all. They have either left or were fired, and I’ve stayed. Right there shows how quickly you can be replaced if you aren’t doing your job correctly, or aren’t liked.

    One of my favorite parts of the article is the quote, “The problem with sucking at your job is that it gives you very little power to make changes.” I know in the game industry, if you don’t understand programming very well, it’s hard to make changes in the code to maximize optimization. The more experience you have and the more knowledge you have in what you are doing ultimately equates to you having more freedom in your job, as you know more ways to work around something or new ways to optimize something. If you are good at your job and can come up with creative and inventive solutions to problems, higher-ups may see that and want to promote you, increasing your importance to the job, giving you more and more leeway as you move up and stay longer at your job.

    The take away from the article, I feel, is to recognize your faults and pay attention to what employers are looking for in an employee. Following orders while still taking liberties to improve upon the task given to you (basically taking initiative) will get you places much faster than just doing your job; understanding what you are doing is more valuable than just being your boss’s pet.

    From the article, I have learned more about what future employers are most likely looking for in me, and how to spend the next years of higher education towards giving myself some of the qualities looked highly upon in the job market today.

  • Reece Dew

    The summer between my junior and senior year of high school, I worked at a local sandwich shop that specialized in wraps. This means I would have to spend 4 hours of my 6-hour shift doing nothing except splitting pita. By then I had learned how to work smart, as high schools generally teach that sort of thing, but the problem here wasn’t working smart. It was lack of motivation and drive at a job I hated. So I made the smart choice, and quit that job to start my own summer clothing business.

    While making clothes, I may not have been able to make as much as if I worked 40-hours a week at this meaningless job. But for the amount of time that I was working, I was easily making more than I would’ve been splitting pitas, and I had more fun doing it while also building life long skills that I’ve been able to apply in everyday life.

    I’m doing this for the scholarship, so if the above is all you want to read feel free to stop here. I just want to address some of the statements you make in your article.

    You say that schools don’t teach students how to work smart, and I strongly disagree.

    One of the main purposes of school is to teach you how to work smart. There may not be a specific class in school titled, “how to work smart,” but it’s very unlikely that someone would be able to make it through college, let alone high school, without knowing how to effectively manage their time and work load to achieve a final product, AKA working smart. Especially if you graduate from a rigorous school in a demanding major.

    That’s why employers’ will have “sky-high” expectations for the workers they hire out of college, and won’t teach you what working smart means. They expect/know that at this point in your life, you should be well educated enough to figure out what working smart means and how to apply it on your own. ESPECIALLY if you’ve just graduated from an ivy league school.

    Then in one of the paragraphs you state that, “Most [people] have something to sell you; I don’t.” This is an untrue statement. In the lines directly following that statement you attempt to sell us on using your job-search engine. Then at the end of the article you link us to 20 different articles linked to this site in order to drive extra traffic to each page, and at the very end you try to literally SELL us your ebook for $12.95.

    I’m sure some people can pass through school in some easy major without working smart, but to think that this applies to everyone in college is wrong.

  • shly

    I agree 100% from everything stated above. When I finally found a job in my career field. I felt like I was thrown to the wolves. I was given a 2 hour intro and then was sat at my desk and was told to get to work. My boss didn’t give me a to do list, he didn’t walk me through what needed to be done. He expected me to just know. So I had to pull my big girl pants up and figure out what needed to be done. I also quickly learned that kissing my bosses butt was not the way to get in his good graces either. He would run all over me if I let him. He tried to make me work weekends on top of my 40 hour weekday schedule and not pay me overtime. You have to get in the rhythm of your job and then draw your line. I did the best that I could in my 40 hours, but after that I’m sorry.

  • Paola Monarrez

    You can learn so much from an entry leven job. When I started attending college I got a job at a fast food restaurant, needless to say this was not a job I wanted to keep for many years. I knew I had to find something better. I needed better pay, and better hours. This job did not offer the things I wanted, so I started looking for something that could support me, and teach me new things.

    That is when I found a job at a physical therapy office. This job had everything I wanted, great hours, good pay and great people to work with. At first I was very shy and wasn’t very sure how to do my assigned duties. My supervisor was very helpful and slowly but surely I started learning more and more. I slowly started getting more opportunities within the company and got new responsibilities and better pay.

    I learned that in order to grow in a career you have to put yourself out there and you have to show that you are interested in learning and doing more things. I found this brings much more that a pay raise. This gives you the opportunity to grow, to gain respect from your supervisors and co workers. I believe that this is the best was to work smart.

  • David Hoying

    This article brings to light skills and behaviors that can be practiced to support my goals to be indispensable to my boss and team. Many of the suggestions in the “20 Things Your Boss Wants from You” involve communication and how to anticipate your Boss’ needs. In a work world inundated by data and continuous access to communication, there are great opportunities to increase a boss’ efficiency by translating this data into useful information. Being disciplined to the strategies mentioned in this article, for example responding to e-mails and taking notes electronically, provide an infrastructure to make the most of this opportunity.

    The article brings forward a message that has been communicated to me many times in my life. That excellence in education gets you a “seat at the table”, but it is your abilities and passion in your work that creates a career. I found the comments regarding the use of these “skills” as transferrable to all aspects of career development to “ring true” for me. Whether the goal is to create future customers, advance in a business, gain experience for the next step in a career or secure references for future advancement the skills are equally effective in achieving these accomplishments.

    My first job in High School at Abercrombie was filled of many lessons mentioned in this article. My goals were to secure employment for money and experience to put on my resume. I had to balance my work with academic and sports responsibilities. My job was going well and I enjoyed the team and I was being scheduled for the desired amount of hours. Then the supervisor changed and the new leader didn’t seem to appreciate my other responsibilities. I felt powerless to being given an opportunity to change her perception. As I reviewed this article, it made me reflect on how things may have been different if I would have deployed some of these skills with my new boss. Direct communication that was clear and blunt may have assisted in assuring the new manager new my interest and how I could balance my dueling responsibilities.

  • lviolette

    The theme of this article, to work smart, reminds me of what something my Mother taught me, and that I have tried to apply to the last two jobs I’ve held: to anticipate what your boss wants from you, and deliver on it without them needing to ask. I worked retail for some time, and after a while, I found that my bosses were relying on the pace of my work to accomplish their goals for the store, whether the day was busy or not. By working quickly to accomplish tasks, rather than having the relaxed, “it will get done” attitude that many of my coworkers had when not under direct supervision, I was given the opportunity to train new hires and discuss opportunities for my coworkers to improve. My managers frequently sought my opinion on how certain coworkers were doing; by working smart I was given the advantage to influence the opinions of my bosses.

    In my most current job as a teaching assistant at my undergraduate university, I was unsure of what I would be responsible for. By meeting with the professor I was assisting and asking specific, well thought out questions about what duties he would need me to take over for him, I was able to gauge how I could exceed his expectations. Because I knew I would applying to a graduate program later, his good opinion of me was extremely important. I made sure to promptly check all email, so that I was responding to issues that both he, and students needed resolved so that the students would begin to contact him first, instead of going through me. I held review sessions for students, and set a goal of myself to have all assignments graded and posted online within a certain timespan. Beyond this, I made to sure to maintain an attitude of professionalism that could have been easy to lose when there were students of the same age, or whom were my friends in the class. From doing these tasks, he mentioned that I had indeed exceeded his expectations.

    The principles of working smart and the advice that while a degree from a well known and respected institution can open doors, it is how you perform once in the room that determines the track of your career, are something I will carry into my graduate study to improve professional relationships, and into my career to advance myself. chosen for top 75 websites for your career

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About the author


In 1997, Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish at Eric still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc., developer of He lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls.