Author: Hal Lancaster
Publisher: Free Press
Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi
It is a fact that many people face the challenge of getting promotion in the workplace. They adduce different (wrong) reasons for this. Such people need to read this book entitled “Promoting Yourself”. It is written by Hal Lancaster who spent more than 30 years at “The Wall Street Journal” as a reporter, bureau chief, editor and columnist.
Lancaster reveals that today’s workplace requires you to compete against ambitious bosses, peers and subordinates, all seeking the brass ring of success. He assures that this text offers readers the street smarts and insight needed to tackle the highly-political and often-unjust reality of corporate life.
The text is divided into seven parts of 52 chapters. Part one is generically christened “Selling yourself”, and contains the first eight chapters. Chapter one is interrogatively entitled “Whither goest resumes?” Here, Lancaster says when he first started writing on career management, he vowed that he would not waste much time on the intricacies of curriculum vitae (called “resume” in American English).
The author adds that in truth, even the greatest curriculum vitae is not likely to get you a job, and the best it can do is to get you in the door. He expatiates that in the ultimate hiring decision, your interview and references carry far more weight. Lancaster adds that bad curriculum vitae can cost you a job by eliminating you from contention before you get a chance to dazzle.
Chapter two is based on highlighting your hidden skills. Here, this author says you may not be able to fathom that miraculous little thing that finally makes a hiring manager hire you. Lancaster says it is necessary to keep an inventory of all your experience and skills, adding that part or one of them may someday land you the career of your dreams.
In chapters three to eight, he examines subject matters such as promoting yourself online; how to tell good schmoozing from bad; being wary in job-hunting; who is likely to get a job; acting the interview and getting what you are worth.
Part two is based on the eclectic concept of getting ahead, and has seven chapters, covering chapters nine to 15. Here, the author discusses concepts such as taking the road less travelled; hunting the elusive mentor; leading when you are not the leader; breaking out of your pigeonhole; chasing the MBA and dunning your boss for a raise.
Part three is generally summarised as “into the management maelstrom” and contains five chapters, that is, chapters 16 to 20. Chapter 16 is entitled “Avoiding those first-time manager blues”. Lancaster says making the leap to a managerial position is not quite that traumatic, but close to that. According to him, “Most get thrown into the arena under-trained and under-armed, uncertain how much authority they really have and just how to wield it without alienating this gaggle of needy humans they’ve been asked to lead.”
In chapters 17 to 20, the author analytically X-rays concepts such as who said techies cannot manage?; managing techies when you are not one; managing a hostile crew; and the art and craft of being a good number two.
Part four has the overall subject of making midcourse corrections, and covers nine chapters, that is, chapters 21 to 29. Chapter 21 is entitled “Turnarounds and careers: Even a lemon has juice”. Here, Lancaster says if you want to make a name for yourself as a can-do manager, find something broken that needs to be fixed. He stresses that turnaround managers must always stay calm and think clearly in the midst of turmoil and be able to envision both short- and long-term goals.
In chapters 22 to 29, the author discusses concepts such as avoidance of crisis; learning from failure; adapting to continual turmoil; return of the living dead; and job-hopping. The remaining concepts are how to survive your middle crisis; going home again and using a job hiatus to build a new career.
Part five is based on the generic subject matter of swimming in a sea of change and contains seven chapters, that is, chapters 30 to 36. Here, Lancaster analytically X-rays concepts such as high-anxiety, low-esteem blues; reinventing your job; creating your own new job; taking a buyout and going bye-bye; wielding the broom; post-merger trauma; and chasing the start-up pot of gold.
Part six is summarily woven together as “Office politics: Playing well with others”, and contains seven chapters, covering chapters 37 to 43. Here, the author examines concepts such as mastering office politics without becoming a jerk; getting noticed without being pushy; learning to negotiate in your career; living with bad bosses; surviving a new boss; going over the boss’s head, etc.
Part seven has general thematic focus of alternate paths to glory, and covers chapters 44 to 52. Here, Lancaster beams his analytical searchlight on concepts such as the perils and promise of turning your hobby into a career; alternative work arrangements; getting branded for life; building a parallel career for fun and profit, etc.
Conceptually, the X-rayed ideas are didactic and eye-opening. As regards style, this text is a success. The language is standard and simple while the presentation is superb. Lancaster lends credibility to the text by illustrating with stories of real-life professionals. Through this strategy, he is able to inspire readers to take action.
However, the layout of inside pages needs to be improved upon, because graphics are not used. There is an error of punctuation on page four where the –ing compound noun “job hunting” is used without a hyphen so that it can be something like “job-hunting”. Also, chapter one that is based on curriculum vitae needs to be made clearer and more definite. As a curriculum vitae consultant, I know the chapter needs to be beefed up.
On a final note, this text is a masterpiece. It is therefore highly recommended to those who want to bid their career stagnation farewell.
GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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