Why Being The "Good" Girl (Or Boy) Won’t Get You Ahead

We here at CGC have been burying ourselves in career advice books on working women, such as Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead But Gutsy Girls Do (Warner Books, ISBN 0-446-67215-7) by Kate White and our beloved Lois Frankel books. Is it possible to be the stereotypical “good” employee (i.e. always does what he/she is told, takes on any task without complaint, avoids controversy, always trys to garner positive opinions, stays out-of-sight and doesn’t take any credit) and get ahead?

Challenger advice stresses the importance of likeability when looking for a job. In order to land a position, a job seeker must first obtain an interview, and second make the interviewer like her. Be pleasant and sociable, all the while demonstrating your desire to work hard and be a much-needed asset to the company – basically, do anything to get the job. However, it’s never a good idea to be a door mat.

Kate White says gutsy girls get ahead, not good ones. A few selected items from her book:

A gutsy girl…
-breaks the rules – or makes her own
-does only what’s essential
-doesn’t worry whether people like her
-asks for what she wants
-takes smart risks
(page 7)

Kate White also discusses beliefs to which good girls conform. For instance, that you shouldn’t ask for anything because then you seem desperate and greedy (chapter 8), that you should accept “no” sitting down, that you should work harder than necessary (chapter 5). These myths will not advance your career, on the contrary, they will lead to more unnecessary work without much benefit. Once you’ve secured a position, it is essential to demonstrate, in plain view of decision-makers, that you are an intelligent, informed, efficient leader in order to advance your career.

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