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‘Work This Way’ by Bruce Tulgan


Work This Way
Bruce Tulgan
Capstone Publishing, 1998, paperback 199 pages £12.99
ISBN 1-900961-563

This is Tulgan’s follow up to Managing Generation X and the trendy cover design makes sure we know the target audience – 20 to 30 year olds. The back page announces in the form of a memo that:
"It’s all over. All of it. Not just job security. Jobs are all over. We have entered the post-jobs era and there is no turning back."
Emotive words indeed, especially for someone not too far above the age range mentioned and who is also in the process of changing their career. The book sets out to provide those most likely to be affected by the demise of the job with a way forward. We are told that one can manage experience and learning from any job, even a ‘McJob’.

After an executive summary, ‘The End Of The Job As We Know It’ is outlined with references to downsizing and re-engineering. The post-jobs era is described by various interviewees, showing how flexibility and a willingness to learn will be essential in the future. Trainers should take heart that ‘Voracious Learning’ is the next chapter where the need to learn is detailed. Learning is a continual process and the following chapter ‘Learn What You Love’ helps to explain that not only should you become expert in what you enjoy, but that this can also mean that you become marketable as an expert in that field, no matter how obscure it may initially seem.

Tulgan then moves away from the past and continual learning to ‘Beyond Networking’ and ‘Maximising Relationship Opportunities. The point is made that there must be a reason for relationships. The reader is asked to identify their end goals rather than network for the sake of it. Some pointers are given to make sure that you constantly add value when working and that this is recognised. The simple, but effective recommendation is that you add value from day-to-day. The book ends with the chapters, ‘Moving Your Life Towards Balance’ and ‘Take It One Year At A Time’, similar to Covey’s Seven Habits, but also includes some good tips on time management.

Over 1000 people formed Tulgan’s research base and statements made by interviewees are a feature of the book. I found them to be rather tedious, thinking about which interviewee had said what rather than paying attention to the statement. The obscure citation references such as ‘Awesome salesperson’ and ‘Retail nomad, five stores and counting’ only added to the intrigue of how many interviewees actually made it into the book. If this writing style and other Americanisms such as ‘no brainer’ (?) are ignored Work This Way is a useful recap of how working life will change and what skills we will all need in order to cope. The book is approachable and does have some useful tips (develop a total customer service mindset; win over ‘gatekeepers’ [secretaries and PAs]) and some less so (phone and fax and write and email someone to get their attention [something that would drive me mad]).

The book could be of great value especially as a distillation of current thinking and provides practical guidance, but I still am unsure about whether the target audience will read it. I know that a few years back I wouldn’t have been ready to hear that the job had had its day and that I would have to rely on my own ability and resources in the exciting times that lay ahead.

Matthew Simkin


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