• Fri, Aug 3 2012

4 Ways To Actually Fake It ‘Til You Make It At Work

I’d say the majority of people who were given the advice “fake it ‘til you make it” in college faked understanding it because everyone else in the class reflexively nodded – myself included.

What we do know is that it’s a shortcut to achieving the success we want and that the little setbacks don’t count as long as you make your strengths stand out. But, there’s a fine line between impersonating a pilot like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Catch Me If You Can to get ahead and

Googling “good angles on APRs” like the heart-warming journalist protagonist in Confessions of a Shopaholic. Here are the four tightropes you should learn to walk in order for this age-old phrase to work for you – not against you:

Fake the jargon – not your understanding of instruction.

If it’s just the buzz words your boss uses that’s throwing you off and context clues make the assignment clear, then simply playing along and poking around on your favorite search engine or Quora later is the perfect way to impress your boss. But, whatever you do, don’t pretend to understand the direction if the lingo left you as confused as first-grader staring at an algebra equation. In this case, speak up if you don’t have a clear sense of what’s expected of you so that you can impress your boss by doing it right the first time.

Fake the effort – not the thoroughness of the work.

The trick is to make hard work look easy, not skimp on the work so that you can finish quickly and pass it off as easy. Think: ballerinas who smile and glide effortlessly even though they’re in their third performance of the day and their thighs are on fire from one pirouette too many. In office terms, crank out a fine product and take the compliment of a good day’s
work from your boss with a smile, not with an exasperated recap of all the trouble you went through to finish. It’s good to remember too that cutting corners may help you finish fast, but can also leave a wide door open for error. I assure you, that you’ll impress your boss more by being thorough than by being the first one done.

Fake your cool – not your belief or opinion.

Everyone’s entitled to their own view. This is America after all, even though brown-nosers in corporate America have set false standards of telling bosses exactly what they want to hear. The truth is that if your
manager asks for your opinion, he or she wants your honest, tactful stance on the subject. While it’s impressive to stick to your guns when debating with your boss, it’s even more important to keep your cool if he or she doesn’t agree with you in the end.

Fake your interest – not your ability.

It’s perfectly fine to hate every tedious second of the spreadsheet you’re working on, as long as you hand it in cheerfully and accurately. It is not OK to fight for a project that is not your forte for the sole purpose of impressing your bosses with your enthusiasm. Faking a positive attitude is a far cry from faking your credibility to handle an important project. The latter is like playing with fire – the pink-slip, unemployment-office, ramen-noodles-every-night kind of fire.

Perception is reality and it is a powerful tool that, if used correctly, can take you higher than a circus acrobat. Just stay balanced on that tight rope straddling the difference between faking it ‘til you make it and
faking it for the sake of it, and you’ll get exactly where you want to go, fast.


Megan Broussard is ProfessionGal, a southern PR girl turned career coach living in NYC. She enjoys critiquing resumes, blogging about the young professional lifestyle, along with reviewing the latest office supplies. She is a contributor to Forbes and The Daily Muse, as well as a columnist for Glass Heel, and has been featured in Shoplet.com’s “Office-Writer Favorites” series. Her next goal in life: writing a book. For the latest gossip on all things career-centric, find her on Twitter/Instagram (@professiongal), Facebook (facebook.com/professiongal), Pinterest (pinterest.com/professiongal) and her blog: professiongal.com.

Photo: Stephen Coburn/Shutterstock.com

Share This Post: