You’re in the job search.
With 1,000′s of other people.
You want to stand out, but not in a bad way. In a good way! So an opportunity comes up where you think to yourself, “Argh! This would be a great opportunity to let my colors show through… if I weren’t so trapped by the rules of the game!”
Then along comes someone who breaks those rules with total nonchalance, and you watch, waiting for the hammer to drop on them, but instead you witness them get the job. That you wanted. And you say, “What?! Did you see what that person did?! They totally broke the rules! am I allowed to *do* that?!”
The answer, in short, is “Yes, if…”
I could say, yes, you are allowed to do whatever you want, it’s your life, have at it!, and I want to say that, except I can’t. Because there’s some subtlety to that statement that many of you might miss, and I don’t want to be blamed for you showing up to job interviews in flip-flops and shorts.
So, I’ll say, “yes, if…” If you can demonstrate that you know the rules of the game, and if, once you do that, you can identify that rule (or those rules) that—by breaking—could really help define who you are, then yes, in that situation, you are allowed to break them. Even better, you are encouraged to do so.
If you first demonstrated that you understand the rules of the game. And if you’re not breaking them because you’re lazy, but because the rules truly run counter to something special about you. And if you continue to follow the other rules. And if you’re consistent. And if you promise to have fun with the process and not blame me when it blows up in your face, which it certainly will, at least once.
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.