Market Survey: Business Executives Prefer Cosmo

When it comes to inane career advice, it's a buyer's market this week.

When it comes to inane career advice, it’s a buyer’s market.

You can’t crack (or click on) a business publication without encountering Columnist A’s Ten (Painfully Obvious) Career Tips or some variation thereon. Surely consumers are not clamoring for this stuff. Give us more pointers on how to dress for success! Tell us again how to get promoted from the cubicle to the corner office (or from storage room B to the cubicle, as the case may be) in six simple steps! The people demand it! But don’t forget: the people are very, very slow.

For instance, we challenge you to find one fresh insight in “5 Tips: How To Polish Your Corporate Image” by CNN Business News’ personal finance editor Gerri Willis, which reads as if written for someone who has never set foot in a corporation, someone who doesn’t so much need to “polish” his “corporate image” so much as become a functioning human being. Willis’ “tips” include “Dress the Part”— specifically, “Guys, ditch the baggy sweatshirts and basketball jerseys in favor of a sharp shirt and dressy chinos,” “[Y]ou’ll want to make sure you look neat and clean,” and, “Draw attention to your facial expressions, not your facial hair.” Moreover, “while it may seem tempting,” Willis advises readers to “keep those forwarded [email] jokes to yourself.” And what do we do with these desk thingies, Ms. Willis? Well, Willis writes, because “what your workspace looks like” affects your “corporate image,” you should “lose the menagerie of stuffed animals.” That’s right: The Beanie Baby collection must go.

If Willis’ piece seems geared toward corporate tenderfoots, Money magazine’s Donna Rosato this month counsels more seasoned worker bees, offering four valuable tips for how to work for a boss who is significantly younger than you are (titled, “No, I’m Not the New Intern, I’m the Boss.”) Do, according to Rosato, “give ‘em a chance.” Don’t, says Rosato, “be parental.” That’s right: behaving like your boss’s mother could be a career killer.

As could, apparently, looking like your boss’s mother — because, as MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough reported last week, “If your features start to droop, the theory is, your career will go sour.” This is why, said Scarborough, “more and more, people are opting to go under the knife as a way to get ahead at the office.” And who better to answer the question “Is plastic surgery a good career move?” than one of Scarborough’s guests — a plastic surgeon (the Beverly Hills-based Dr. Anthony Griffin whom you may remember from “Extreme Makeover,” the reality TV show known for its conservative approach to plastic surgery). Among the hard-hitting questions Scarborough posed to the doctor: “Would you agree that plastic surgery is going to help just about anybody in any professional field they go into?” To which the plastic surgeon replied: “Well, it really does.” That’s right: if all else fails, you can nip and tuck your way up the ladder.

Or, if you’re a broadcast journalist, you can just hit the bottle.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.