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An Outsider's Guide to Shaking Hands, Shutting Up, Handling Jerks, and Other Crucial Skills in Business that No One Ever Teaches You

by Ross McCammon

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-525-95502-3
Publisher: Dutton

A handy how-to guide on cultivating and applying today’s most useful business skills.

Despite its relentlessly droll delivery, media editor and etiquette columnist McCammon’s office primer provides pages of valuable advice for anyone already working in or hoping to score a rewarding office job. Drawing from his personal experience, the author knows well the insecurities that can sabotage self-confidence and productivity. After years editing an in-flight magazine, the author was recruited in 2005, at age 30, for an editing job at Esquire, a position for which he considered himself seriously underqualified. “I didn’t know how to work at a big magazine and I didn’t know how to live in a city like New York,” he writes. Yet a decade later, the author remains with the publication, and he chronicles his Manhattan awkwardness (spun into learning experiences) while dispensing the proven employment tactics that made him a comfortable and more self-assured professional. McCammon’s material covers many situations and common conundrums encountered both inside and outside of the business world. Job-seeking readers will scrutinize chapters on assertive interviewing strategies (express authenticity and candor), the importance of discretion, effective speechwriting, and honing underappreciated talents like small talk and firm handshakes. McCammon’s checklist on maintaining proper office decorum encompasses everything from emailing and social media restraint to sartorial guidelines, avoiding “assholery” (there’s a quiz), and the timeless values of punctuality, contact, and a positive attitude. Though some of his advice won’t resonate with every reader (“apologies are purely emotional”; “one drink is just the right amount”), the author’s alacrity at dispensing these office-centric gems is infectious. The condensed appendices at the end of the book include a reading list and a refreshing rundown of general business rules.

An effective amalgam of satire and practicality, McCammon’s functional playbook takes the guesswork and much of the mystery out of job searches and appropriate office etiquette.