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The New Rules of Work: A book review by Bob Morris

The New Rules of Work: The Muse Playbook for Navigating the Modern Workplace
Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew
Currency/An Imprint of Random House (2019)

To paraphrase Alan Kay, “The best way to predict the new rules of work is to invent them.”

Note: This review is of the paperbound edition of a book first published by Crown Business two years ago.

Here is a passage in the book’s Introduction with which Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew create a context, a frame of reference, for the information, insights, and counsel that follow:

“In the new world of work, what many of us not is not a tool for job search, but tools for job discovery — tools to help you figure out who, as a unique individual, really want. You need tools to explore the countless different options that are available to you. You need resources to research positions and companies — resources that will tell you not just how many employees they have or what their yearly operating budget is, but whether their culture is a fit for your work style, whether their workspace is inspiring to you, whether their employees are happy and fulfilled, and whether those employees are the type of people with whom you want to work.”

Moreover, “You need methods for career experimentation, the ability to try a few things and see when you’re on the right track — and the wrong one. A lot of the rules are being rewritten as we speak, meaning that we all have the opportunity to contribute to the future of a workplace that will look remarkably different in five to seven years than it does so. We’re pretty excited by this idea, and we hope you are, too.”

Cavoulacos and Minshew  focus on the new rules within ten separate but related domains:

1. building a personal brand
2. networking
3. finding job opportunities
4. crafting an application
5. acing the interview(s)
6. nailing a negotiation
7. communication
8. interpersonal skills
9. productivity
10. career advancement

The advice provided by Cavoulacos and Minshew is based on their own wide and deep experience, of course, but also on what has been revealed elsewhere throughout the TheMuse.com, a career platform they co-founded used by more than 75-million people to research companies and careers.

Yes, this really is a roadmap and playbook for navigating the modern workplace but it is also a workbook for the explorer. Cavoulacos and Minshew make brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include Tools (e.g. Onlined Imersion and Mining the Fields, Pages 40-45), dos and don’ts checklists (“Resume and Cover Letter,” 149-150), and interactive exercises (“Interview Chdeat Sheet,” 187-192),

I highly recommend highlighting key passages and having a lined notebook near at hand in which to record comments, questions, page references, and clippings from magazines and newspapers that are especially relevant. Also, be sure to check out the “Additional Tools” section (Pages 313-#15) that lists the content and articles referenced throughout the book. Cavoulacos and Minshew urge their readers to access or download an abundance of these and other resources at TheMuse.com/the new rules.

They invoke a familiar metaphor when suggesting that their organization and this book have been created to assist those preparing to embark — or have only recently embarked — on a journey to secure a position that is much more suitable to their needs, interests, talents, and values.

Although a career is not a solo journey, Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew acknowledge, “it is your journey, and you’re in the driver’s seat. And it’s going to be a wonderful ride.” Let this book serve as a GPS system compass, road map, deep training program, tool kit, and operations manual for that journey.

Bon voyage!

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