Have you ever wondered how some people who are terrible at their jobs got their jobs in the first place? Do you scratch your head when unqualified people get promoted way faster than the norm? Do you sometimes get pissed off thinking, “Why them and not me?”
Well get ready. I’d like to discuss three archetypes of people who successfully manipulate their way forward. I’ve come across each one of them at every medium-to-large organization I’ve worked for since 1999. We can probably all relate to each archetype on some level.
How To Get A Job You Do Not Deserve
Life isn’t fair. We all know this. But some people are much better at playing their cards than others. I played my pocket 10s like I had pocket rockets in my career until they got busted on the river by a full house.
Getting promoted to VP at age 27 and to Executive Director at age 31 took a tremendous amount of performance, luck, and political maneuvering. But I failed after my third year as an ED to break through to Managing Director after one year of trying, so I decided to negotiate a severance and be the CEO of my own company. Straight to the top baby!
Yes, if I stayed at my company for five more years, my chance of making Managing Director would increase significantly. But I had already felt the reward:performance correlation break down since the financial crisis, so I had to leave before getting too annoyed. I was too young to settle for a cushy job where nobody tried really hard anymore because the pay was beginning to all look the same.
I’ve shared with you plenty of career advice in the past through articles such as, “A List Of Career Limiting Moves To Blow Up Your Future,” “Why You Didn’t Get The Job According To HR,” and “How To Protect Yourself From A Mass Layoff.” But now I want to share with you some incredibly effective tips for getting that job, raise, or promotion that you do not deserve.
If you are unworthy, you should essentially classify yourself into one of the three categories below to enact your strategy.
The Chameleon Ass Kisser (CAK – pronounce w/ Boston accent)
Let’s say you disagree with your boss and your boss’s boss. Don’t ever tell them! As the CAK, your job is to always put on a smiley face and agree with whatever your bosses have to say. If your boss thinks it’s wise to step up spending on creating a product that makes no sense, you must wholeheartedly agree with his or her idea in public. Then go a step further and write e-mails and create presentations supporting your boss’ idea while CCing him or her.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve already seen the horrible ending of the story. Horrible endings can often take years to play out. Your goal is to stick with your boss through thick and thin so that you can get a raise and a promotion before things blow up. Once you get that raise and promotion, you can then job hop to another company with your higher title for bigger and better bucks.
People don’t stay at their jobs for much longer than three years on average anyway nowadays. Therefore, the CAK’s goal is to be a loyal soldier until the day before the bomb blows up.
The downside for the unskilled CAK is that he will be too eager to please, and behind closed doors be too loose and speak his mind with colleagues on how he really feels. His colleagues will resent the CAK for his two-face nature and try to sink his chances for glory.
Therefore, if you want to be a skilled CAK, you must never speak ill about anybody. If you are not a CAK, you must never reveal your thoughts to a CAK because s/he’ll just use your words and back stab you when you’re not looking.
The biggest thing you can learn from a CAK is to learn how to RESPECT your boss.
The Attractive Manipulating Predator (AMP)
The AMP is a scary version of the CAK. AMPs use their beauty to manipulate men into hiring people they’d normally not hire or promote employees faster than they should. Rest assured, as more women get into power, there will be more male AMPs too.
Men are dogs. We can’t help ourselves. There is deep preferential treatment for attractive women. What’s said behind closed doors in locker rooms is not fit for print. I’ve known several male doctors who say the crudest things when we go out for drinks about their patients, yet act like CAKs to their patients who think they are saints.
The AMP knows how to prey on male weaknesses to get what they want. AMPs realize men are weak and constantly need to be loved. One AMP I know, tells me plenty of her amazing stories. She’s an attractive 27 year old woman who speaks multiple languages and has a fine taste for food and drink.
Out of the blue she’ll send me a “Hello from St. Thomas!” or a “Hello from Paris!” She’s always with some random guy who is taking her on an amazing all expenses paid vacation. One man who is absolutely in love with her is paying her $3,100 a month Manhattan rent while he supports a wife and three children in Long Island!
AMPs can usually last about one or two years in an organization before moving on. The reason is that beauty must be followed by substance to last longer term. The smoke eventually clears, and mirrors eventually break. If this wasn’t the case, super models would always stay married.
One nefarious tip an AMP taught me is to look for bosses who have recently gone through a divorce. She knows that when any man breaks up with a woman, he feels vulnerable and insecure. She knows that men want to constantly prove to the world they aren’t “failures,” even though divorce is so common nowadays.
If she can swoop in and make her future boss feel good about himself (like a man again), regardless of her job qualifications, she knows she’ll have an infinitely higher chance of getting the job, than if the boss was happily married.
If you are a male AMP, speak up! I want to hear about your strategies and experiences.
Related: Why Interacting With A Woman Can Leave Men Cognitively Impaired (Scientific American)
The Pedigree Pushing Pimp (Triple P)
The Triple P will come from a prestigious school or exclusive company and either think they know more than they really know, or attempt to make themselves look more knowledgeable than reality. They tend to live in the past on what they’ve done, instead of what they can do or need to do.
Triple Ps know that some hiring managers get mesmerized by pedigree, much like how some people get mesmerized by movie stars. Have you ever met someone who went to Harvard and Stanford who doesn’t figure out a way to quickly mention they went to Harvard or Stanford?
The problem with Triple Ps is that they tend to come from very institutionalized organizations that have lost their sense of innovation. They are bogged down by bureaucratic habits and darkness. Sadly, size and bureaucracy are often the results of success. If they bring their darkness into your lightness, bad things will happen.
The worst scenario is when a Triple P joins a small organization like a startup. The small organization thinks they are getting a great resume, until they realize the Triple P’s success has been largely helped by a massive budget and well-known company brand. Triple Ps are not used to hustling from the ground up.
Nothing can really replace experience. The ability to draw upon previous failures and successes, and apply them to new ideas and projects is invaluable. If you have Triple P qualifications and are starting at a startup, know your place. You need to prove yourself all over again.
The best person to hire is actually an ex-entrepreneur who knows all about hustle, yet fully appreciates the comfort and security of being an employee.
It Takes Skill To Truly Get Ahead
Luck can only take you so far. You’ve got to make an honest assessment of your abilities and then maximize your abilities to the fullest. The CAKs, AMPs, and Triple Ps of the world may be annoying, but they are simply leveraging their attributes to get ahead.
Recognize the reality of how people advance farther than their abilities would dictate. Instead of being envious, learn from them. You deserve everything coming to you!
Finally, the best way to take matters into your own hands is to start a business if you believe in your abilities. There’s nothing better than being your own boss and seeing maximum correlation with effort and reward. Not a day goes by where I don’t give thanks for starting Financial Samurai in 2009. Start something special on the side while you have a job, and work on it until it gains traction. You might surprise yourself!
Recommendation For Leaving A Job
If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I recommend negotiating a severance instead of quitting. If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training. Since you got laid off, you’re also eligible for up to 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.
Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye, on how to negotiate a severance. I first published the book in 2012 and have since expanded it to 180 pages from 100 pages in the 3rd edition thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.
Updated for 2020 and beyond