"The Rules" Need Not Apply

I don't assume the rules for job searching and career development apply to my clients and I don't think they have to apply to you, either. Both the rules about how companies engage with you and the rules about how you engage with them.

Examples of "rules" include:

1. Hire people within the budgeted salary range.

2. Don't express emotion.

3. Follow the company's HR process.

4. Make sure you meet all the key requirements of the job description.

I am not saying that I want you to be unprofessional or disregard qualifications, etc. I'm just saying that I experience zero surprise when a really smart, magnetic person lands a juicy role after coloring outside the lines.

The downside of following all the rules is that you're never as compelling as a candidate who shows huge amounts of aligned initiative, doing things differently than others. It means that you miss out on opportunities.

Not just opportunities within the unpublished job market, but roles that haven't even been conceptualized. These roles haven't been conceptualized because the team doesn't know you yet.

They didn't realize they needed you because they don't know what you know. And when you show up...jazzed about what they're working on, clear about what they need, what you offer, and how the two fit together...

then they realize they need you.

Not always, obviously. But when they do, they're willing to break the rules. That shows up in different ways. They may:

-hire you even though you don't meet a qualification they thought was a deal-breaker.

-invent a role that wasn't in the budget.elevate a title since you're more qualified.

-redistribute responsibilities.

-give you more money than was in their range.

-create a new reporting structure for you. 

I have done all of these for candidates I decided I had to have.

As a job seeker, if you don't know how to break the right rules, at the right time, in a way that feels like an authentic win-win...if you don't know what breaking the rules could actually mean in your's not your fault. How would you know if you haven't had exposure?

The people who have "broken the rules" are people who have violated a social norm or an established process. Can you imagine seeing posts on LinkedIn with people talking about how they landed their new job by totally circumnavigating the HR process or how they negotiated a comp package that required a change in board policy?

I'm privileged to have daily exposure to the things people do and don't do in their careers...and then the outcomes they experience. I want to encourage you to engage in some healthy (respectful and bold, yet not entitled) rule-breaking. It really can be a win-win for all parties.

If you're curious about what it feels like to have a personal strategist, you can set up a free intro call here

I'm in your corner,


Emma Garrett is an Executive Career Coach, helping high-integrity leaders position themselves for what’s next in work and life. Ready to start doing things differently? Consider scheduling a free call to share your situation and goals or checking out the resources at