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The Critical First Years of Your Professional Life    by Robert F. Dilenschneider order for
Critical First Years of Your Professional Life
by Robert F. Dilenschneider
Order:  USA  Can
Kensington, 2014 (2014)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton

This author readily admits to belonging to another generation and states he was a young professional in the 1960's. He is writing this book as fatherly advice to today's young professionals to save them grief and disappointment.

I couldn't help but think about how our kids think about their parents now. They consider us dinosaurs who are totally out of touch. Yes, Mr. Dilenschneider is head of a New York consulting firm, but to our 40-ish kids, at least, he's irrelevant. It is their loss because he has much to share. I can only imagine with the twenty-something group thinks - or rather, doesn't think.

The book is divided clearly into sections, so the reader can decide what is useful. The workplace has morphed into a totally different place. The old line major companies are gone, at least in the form they once existed. Unemployment remains too high, and young people struggle. Since so many of the baby boomer generation have been downsized and replaced with cheaper help, there is no longer such a thing as the corporate man. He may be a she, a minority, or non-existent. Women are very much a part of the workplace and, sadly, still not treated as equals in too many cases. Women with children, particularly, need to take the company temperature as to how they treat family leave issues. There are laws on the subject, but there are also ways of interpreting those laws.

The first work years are boot camp. Good, polite manners are a must. You will make mistakes. Learn from them. He strongly recommends becoming very aware of the organizational culture. Is it traditional? Is it family operated? He tells you how to read and deal with the culture. Keep your private life private. That's always been good advice. There are those mole souls who will do their best to delve into any personal problems you might allude to. Don't buy into this. It will be used on you as fuel for the company gossip, and company loves gossip.

Network like mad. Make friends. Keep a positive attitude no matter what. Don't badmouth anyone. Keep your professional image forefront. Be the go-to person. Have allies and play the game, whatever it is. Have some special, useful skills, and stay busy with corporate business.

If you think you're in trouble on a job, you are. Don't quit, however, because it's easier to get a job if you have one. Sometimes you can remedy the problem, but most often you can't. Sometimes the organization is in trouble; sometimes it's management problems. It doesn't matter. Situations change. Never get too comfortable. Always be prepared for that next move, particularly if it's an advancement.

Think through every aspect of your professional life on a strategic basis. Do I need more training? Do I need a different career? Weigh costs and options. Do your best to keep a positive outlook no matter what's going on. Negativity will get you nowhere.

I will add to his excellent advice. Keep money in the bank and plan for your retirement. Live cheaply. Stay out of debt, or you may be forced to keep a job you hate. Keep in shape. Skip the tats and nose rings. Have a sideline, another occupation, a fall-back plan besides mommy and daddy that will keep you going until you find that next professional job. You just never know when you may need it. Those prepared will bounce back.

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