Book Reviews

Human Resources

On the Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work

Author: Stephen Viscusi
Publisher Crown Publishing Group
Publication Date: April, 2001

Reviewer:G.A. (Andy) Marken
In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

You are viewing the U.S. bookstore. Click here to view the Canadian store.

Whether you’re new to the work force or have gray around the temples, you’ll probably find some good nuggets in Viscusi’s On the Job. If you’ve got a job great! But remember…you were looking for a job when you found this one. If you’re looking for a job…bummer!

Either way the head of the NYC-based executive search firm and career adviser of “On the Job,” the nationally syndicated call-in radio show, does a good job of summarizing what he has learned and dispensed over the years in helping job candidates.

To make the task of succeeding in your chosen field, Viscusi breaks down the “work-life puzzle” into seven primary pieces. Each chapter covers one of the pieces. To make the book work for you he uses highlight boxes throughout to illustrate positive (way to go”) and negative (“wrong turn”) examples. If you’re looking for a job or a new job right now you could speed-read through the book hitting the boxes and learning the key points.

Fortunately we’ve only carried out two job hunts in our 25+-year career…our first and second job. After that things sort of fell in our lap. Viscusi continually reminds the reader of one vital fact -- “your career is whatever job you hold today.” The second point he makes is that work is unfair so, “get over it!” We’ve always thought of it in slightly different terms…work isn’t a Democracy. You don’t really get a vote.

His final point that any boss will whole-heartedly endorse is to keep your work and personal lives separate. Leave the baggage of your home life at the front door every morning and pick it up in the evening when you leave. The reverse is also true of your work life.

While the book will be of primary help to people just starting out on the job hunt tour don’t expect to find tips on writing resumes, how to interview or how to negotiate your salary. This book is practical advice gained from years of placing people and giving advice that has worked on his radio show.

On the Job will also help people have a job -- whatever it is. What others may whisper, Viscusi says in plain language. In many instances he touches on areas and gives advise that isn’t politically correct but is well understood by people men or women who have been on the job a few years. He touches the gray areas -- sexism, ageism, racism, busybodies, snipers, bad-mouthers, work shufflers, glory seekers, and bad managers -- in practical rather than theoretical terms.

Why did we choose On the Job to review? Very simply because he comes down hard on an area we constantly harp on with our own people…communications skills. Viscusi sends the message loud and clear that communications skills have become more important than ever before and they will be even more important in the 21st century.

Employers today not only want people working with them who can not only do the job but can also write, speak and communicate well. He emphasizes that both quantity and quality are important. You have to know how much to say and how to say them just right.

The second key point that Viscusi pounds home is the need for good organizational skills. After all without these skills you probably won’t have to worry about work because you won’t be on the job! If you can’t manage your time, workspace and work schedule effectively you’ll never be able to deal with the daily crisis you’ll encounter in the field.

Just remember his second key point. Work isn’t always fair. Get over it!