You know that one friend that you always go to for work-related advice—be it what to wear to a big interview or how to handle a situation in the office that seems like a complete disaster? For me, that friend has always been Hillary Kerr. We started our careers side by side back in the very early 2000s and not long after, in 2006, she went on to co-found WhoWhatWear.com with the equally-professionally savvy Katherine Power.
In the decade since launching their site, Kerr and Power have grown their business under the banner Clique Media Group (which added beauty site Byrdie.com and lifestyle destination MyDomaine.com in 2013) and just recently debuted their own line with Target. So it makes perfect sense that the duo's latest book focuses on being strategic and stylish while building the career of your dreams. The Career Code has honest, practical advice for readers in every stage of their professional development. Read on for five tips we at InStyle found the most inspiring and resonant—and pick up the book, out today, to get even more.
1. Never Stop Researching Your Field
Not only do Kerr and Power advise doing your homework before a big job interview, they also suggest remaining highly engaged in the company at large, market trends, and relevant news once you have the job. "By staying up-to-date on your industry throughout your career, you'll be able to recognize and take advantages of opportunities before your peers do," they write.
2. Always Err on the Side of Professionalism
Keep work e-mails polite and thorough. Remember, "Once you hit 'send' on an e-mail, you have no idea where it's going to end up ... The person you sent it to could forward it along, without context, to someone very important in her company. It could get sent to someone by accident." They also recommend being aware of how much of your private life you're sharing with coworkers—those both above you in the hierarchy and those below, as well. "The more senior you are, the more imperative it is that you don't overshare," they say. "In a senior-level position, you are responsible for setting the tone for how much people share or do not share, so use your power wisely!"
3. Proactivity Often Pays Off
Do your best to anticipate your boss's needs and don't make them chase info. "Sending simple status updates to the relevant parties, complete with a quickly rehashed plan about your next steps gives everyone peace of mind," they say.
4. You Will Always Have a Tricky Colleague
Even in the best work environment, you're going to have at least one person who qualifies as "dramatic, crazy, pushy, rude, unintelligent, stubborn, unimaginative, lazy, sloppy or generally annoying," the pair writes. "You're going to have to deal with them, so it's best to have a game plan." How to handle a troublemaker? Be self-aware of your role in whatever issue may come up, set up a private meeting to calmly address any problems, and document your conversations and action plans to resolve things.
5. Own Your Mistakes
When you mess up at work, the instinct may be to minimize the issue. Kerr and Power suggest instead calmly taking responsibility, apologizing, and presenting three ideas of how to fix the situation. "Being proactive in these situations is incredibly important," they write. "It gives you something helpful to do and shows everyone else that you're not paralyzed by the crisis."