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Career + Job Searching: How To Break The Rules (And Why You Should)

woman typing on her computer while job searching

How much does a potential workplace’s dress code matter to you? 

If “wearing jeans to work” ranks at the top of your job search desires, you’re not alone.

In 2019, staffing firm Randstad US performed a study and found that 33% of respondents would rather quit their job—or decline a job offer—than have to wear business attire during the work week. (In that same study, one-third of workers also said they’d reject a $5,000 a year bonus if they could choose a casual dress code instead.)

Thankfully, in the post-pandemic future, workplace dress codes seem to be on their way out— though some workplaces are still rigidly sticking to traditional rules of business attire.  

Some of the new work patterns we developed while enduring the global COVID-19 pandemic (more relaxed dress, the availability of remote work, etc.) are here to stay. 

The work and job searching world has changed. Now we get to shift with it. 

There has never been a better time to break the rules. And that’s great news because, as a career coach, I believe career planning should be a time of playful exploration.

Here’s how you can break the traditional rules of job searching, have a little fun, and take the pressure off yourself.

Why The Science Of Work Favors The Rulebreakers

Experts call it “The Red Sneaker Effect,” and it’s why Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg can wear his trademark hoodie and still command respect. 

Essentially, it is the concept that rulebreakers “tend to be seen as more competent in many, if not most, situations where they break the established norms.” Francesca Gino, author of Rebel Talent: Why It Pays To Break The Rules At Work And In Life, coined the term after studying how wearing red sneakers in a professional setting affected how a person was viewed by others.

Through her work, she found that atypical (or nonprofessional) clothing made others think higher of a person, not less.

The thing about breaking the rules is that it frees you to trust your inner wisdom and insight more. And when you make your decisions based on that trust, you’ll discover delight, harmony,  creativity, and confidence you didn’t experience before.

And that is always worthy of respect. 

How To Break The Traditional Rules Of Work

  • Lean into your energetic rhythms.

Traditional work allows no room for energetic bursts and dips (which your body naturally experiences in a day). Break the rules by tuning into your body’s rhythm throughout the day. Then focus on aligning your work, your meetings, and your breaks with your energy levels. 

  • Take responsibility for where you are and where you want to be. 

Release the expectations of others and any feelings that they are responsible for your unhappiness. We make the choices that control our today and our tomorrow. Making new choices starts today. 

  • Align your decisions with your values. 

Ditch the traditional work persona. Trying to be two different people (a “work person” and an “outside of work” person) is exhausting. Consequently, when you work to align your values with your career decisions, you become whole…all the time. 

  • Trust yourself (and the universe).

Traditional rules would have you believe there are no surprises, but stay open to them and you’ll be amazed at what you find. You’ll probably start to notice synchronicities and “happy coincidences.” I call them “divine winks,” and they remind you that you’re on the right path. 

  • Let go of unhelpful thoughts.

Your past mistakes do not define you. Discouragement does not elevate you. Find things to be grateful for daily and adopt a growth mindset, where everything you can’t do is simply things you can’t do…yet. 

7 Career Rules We’re Breaking In 2022

  1. Strict Workplace Dress Codes

We will no longer wear suits, dry-clean-only clothes, and uncomfortable shoes to work—unless it is what WE WANT to wear. 

  1. Lengthy Resumes

The days of using full sentences on our résumés are gone. We vow to “make it quick” and to the point. Let the HR team say “amen.”

  1. Job Title Limitations

The job title we are assigned is one thing. Our knowledge and insight are another. We refuse to accept stagnant careers simply because one position is who others say we are. 

  1. Workaholic Praise

Call it “quiet quitting” or “acting our wage,” but we will no longer sacrifice ourselves for the cause of  “best employee ever.” We will set boundaries for ourselves and find workplaces that allow us time and energy to live fulfilling lives. 

woman looking to the sunset after breaking the rules and finding a perfect career
  1. Toxic Work Environments 

We will no longer endure horrible bosses or petty coworkers until we break out in shingles from stress and anxiety. We will seek out workplaces where we can prioritize our physical and mental health. 

  1. Shame Of Success

We will not dim our own light to make others comfortable. We will embrace our unique attributes that add value and accept new opportunities without guilt or hesitation. 

  1. Prioritizing Work Over Life

We will no longer skip out on taking vacations because we’re “needed” at work— no matter how much our manager says it. We work FOR a living, so we won’t prioritize work OVER living. 

The Bottom Line: Break The Rules. Make The Leap. 

You are not your job title. Break the rules to find your perfect-fit career. 

Make the Leap! Career Change Playbook is a 30-page playbook outlining EACH step in the career change process, so you can know exactly which step to take next as you pave your own path…your way. 


Flourish Careers is a career coaching and consulting business dedicated to helping individuals and small businesses find their unique path to flourishing professional success. Learn more about how we can help you here.

woman typing on her computer while job searching

Career + Job Searching: How To Break The Rules (And Why You Should)

woman typing on her computer while job searching

Career + Job Searching: How To Break The Rules (And Why You Should)

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