Common sense in the workplace isn't as common as you think

Posted: August 07, 2013

A TELEVISION reporter who was fired for some things she posted on her personal blog could have used advice from Robert L. Deitz.

So could a law-school graduate who sent an email to prospective employers to which he attached a picture of himself wearing a T-shirt showing off his beefy biceps. He thought the photo would help him get a job. It hasn't yet.

It did however generate a lot of conversation on whether his strategy was crazy or clever.

"Beware of everything you do on the Internet," Deitz writes in a self-published book, Congratulations - You Just Got Hired: Don't Screw It Up, which is this month's Color of Money Book Club selection. You can get the 44-page tome on

Why buy into Deitz's short, sweet advice?

He's held some pretty impressive jobs and worked alongside some very powerful people. He's a Harvard Law School graduate who clerked for three Supreme Court justices, was a partner in two large law firms and served as general counsel of the National Security Agency and as a senior aide to the director of the CIA. He retired from the CIA in 2012 and is now a professor of public policy at George Mason University.

"In these various private- and public-sector jobs, I have seen lots of office behavior," he writes. "I know what conduct will advance careers, what conduct will undermine them."

If you don't know how to handle yourself on the job, you can short-circuit your career, Deitz says. Think this is common sense? Clearly not for a lot of new professionals (or seasoned ones).

As I read Deitz's tips, I thought about the recent news stories of Shea Allen, who lost her television job for posting personal confessions such as this: "I'm frightened of old people, and I refuse to do stories involving them or the places they reside." Or, "If you ramble, and I deem you unnecessary for my story, I'll stop recording but let you think otherwise."

Really, given her job, she should have known better and heeded this advice from Deitz: "Bits and bytes are forever. Beware of everything you do on the Internet, even at home on your own time."

His other lessons include:

* Study your boss. "If your boss is a micromanager, become used to getting down in the weeds over word choices."

* Don't be the office whiner.

* Learn to accept criticism.

* Don't take "casual day" dress too far. Be sure to gauge the work environment so your casual dress doesn't offend.

* Avoid arrogance.

* Do not use your boss' s name . Deitz says he once sent a memo asking in the name of his boss for some information he wanted. "When the answer arrived - addressed to my boss, of course - he circled his name on my request followed by a huge question mark."

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