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The Unspoken Rules

Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right

Gorick Ng


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You've landed a job. Now what?

No one tells you how to navigate your first day in a new role. No one tells you how to take ownership, manage expectations, or handle workplace politics. No one tells you how to get promoted.

The answers to these professional unknowns lie in the unspoken rules—the certain ways of doing things that managers expect but don't explain and that top performers do but don't realize.

The problem is, these rules aren't taught in school. Instead, they get passed down over dinner or from mentor to mentee, making for an unlevel playing field, with the insiders getting ahead and the outsiders stumbling along through trial and error.

Until now.

In this practical guide, Gorick Ng, a first-generation college student and Harvard career adviser, demystifies the unspoken rules of work. Ng distills the wisdom he has gathered from over five hundred interviews with professionals across industries and job types about the biggest mistakes people make at work. Loaded with frameworks, checklists, and talking points, the book provides concrete strategies you can apply immediately to your own situation and will help you navigate inevitable questions, such as:

  • How do I manage my time in the face of conflicting priorities?
  • How do I build relationships when I'm working remotely?
  • How do I ask for help without looking incompetent or lazy?

The Unspoken Rules is the only book you need to perform your best, stand out from your peers, and set yourself up for a fulfilling career.

Harvard Business Review Press, 9781647820442, 300pp.

Publication Date: April 27, 2021

About the Author

Gorick Ng is a career adviser at Harvard College, specializing in first-generation, low-income students. He is also a researcher in the Managing the Future of Work project at Harvard Business School. Gorick has worked in career services at UMass Boston, management consulting at Boston Consulting Group, investment banking at Credit Suisse, and education policy at the Toronto District School Board. He was named one of TIME magazine's top 25 future leaders from around the world and has also been featured in The Star, the Globe and Mail, World Journal, and on CBC. Gorick is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. He was a first-generation college student.You can find Gorick Ng at