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by Vault Careers | May 14, 2019


It's graduation season, which means it's give-advice-to-grads season, and recently, The Wall Street Journal asked several CEOs for their unconventional advice for new graduates. While all the advice given is worth reading (and taking), there's one piece of advice that we think stands above and beyond the rest, because it can quickly boost your career, no matter if you're a new grad looking for your first job or an experienced professional looking for your second or third job.

The advice comes from Barbara Corcoran, the real estate mogul turned TV personality (she's a regular "Shark" investor on ABC's "Shark Tank"). Corcoran recommends, during the interview process, to pay close attention to the person who'll be your boss. Corcoran says, "The boss makes all the difference. Every time I had a great boss, I excelled beyond my wildest expectations, and every time I had a clunker, I hated my job.”

She believes that, ideally, you want a boss who will not be threatened by you, who will push and motivate you, and who will help you find areas in which you like to work in your chosen field. 

On the surface, this all might seem like good but simple advice. But it's not commonly given advice, and, if you really take this advice in, it can change the way you search for a job and the way you treat your career, quickly boosting it in the process. Here's why.

1. It places the focus on your goals, turning the focus away from you trying to impress your interviewers.

If you go into the interview process with Corcoran's advice on your mind, you will inevitably be more relaxed. You will be less anxious about having to try to impress your interviewers, and you will in turn exude confidence, as you really will be treating the interview process as a two-way street: you interviewing the company as much as it is interviewing you. And the truth is, you're there, on an interview, to boost your career, not just to get hired and hope that you're liked. So own that truth, and look and listen and ask yourself: Is this manager going to help me on my path? Is this a person I want to align myself with? Will this person help me achieve my goals?

2. It will make you work harder and be more engaged, setting you up for a promotion and/or vaulting you into another position at another company.

When you have a great manager, you'll want to work hard for them, and you'll be inspired to do your best, perhaps reaching heights you never knew you could hit, as Corcoran says. This can put you on a path to achieve all that you want to achieve in your career, and more. When you work hard and are engaged in your work, chances are your career opportunities will broaden. Your advancement opportunities will widen, and your network of fellow high performers will widen. On the other hand, an uninspiring boss will do nothing but limit your opportunities. You won't be inspired to work hard, and your happiness and long-term career goals will suffer as a result.

And so, do yourself (and your career) a favor, and from now on, when you're looking for a new position, make Corcoran's advice a regular tool in your job-search kit. Make sure to focus on who your boss will be when you're interviewing, and only pursue opportunities where you believe you'll be working for an enthusiastic, inspiring, helpful boss. Remember: no clunkers allowed.