We live in unprecedented times, especially when it comes to our careers. Technology, the economy, and globalization have created constant and rapid change. Long ago, companies banked on the fact that if our parents and grandparents had been customers, we would be too. Tradition, loyalty, and reliability were the competitive edge. Now what matters is whether you’re seen as innovative, unique, and “trending.” Who needs a TV that lasts for twenty years when the technology that powers it will be obsolete in eighteen months? The same can be said of employees in today’s workplace.

Gone are the days of employer loyalty and gold retirement watches. Companies have adopted layoffs, reorgs, leader changes, and strategy shifts as a way of doing business. But there’s a silver lining to this tumultuous employer-employee relationship: it opens up opportunities for us to play the field a bit, to diversify our skills, gain new experiences, and qualify for jobs based more on talent than time in service. And the first step in learning to thrive in this environment is to understand the new, unspoken rules of today’s workplace.

New Rule #1: Think Like a Businessperson, Not Like a Student

No matter what generation we hail from, a lot of us show up in the workplace like students. We’re waiting to be taken care of by the powers that be, for someone to make decisions and map out our futures. We spend eighteen to thirty years, sometimes more, in school and are then unleashed into the workplace entirely ill-equipped to think like businesspeople.

Think about it. If you get good grades in eleventh grade, what are you guaranteed? A spot in twelfth grade. There’s no, “Hey, it’s tough out there. There are only a few twelfth-grade spots. The competition is stiff, so bring your best.” Promotion is guaranteed.

women tend to make better bosses

But business isn’t like school. You’re getting paid to help a company succeed. That means they don’t owe you a mapped-out career path. They don’t owe you promotions and raises. They don’t owe you anything other than the negotiated rate for your services.

When it comes to anything you want from a company—a promotion, new assignment, or raise—you need to view what you’re asking for as a business trade. You should have a solid rationale for what you’re trying to get from the company, and you’d better make sure there’s something in it for them. “I’m a hard worker and I deserve it” needs to be permanently blotted from your vocabulary. You need to steep yourself in a “Here’s how my idea can help you” approach instead.

New Rule #2: Focus on Building Your Brand Instead of Collecting Titles

When I teach a class or workshop, one of the first questions people ask is how they can get a promotion to that elusive title just above their own. But vice president, lead supervisor, senior manager, head mechanic—these are titles that a million other people hold. Your title gives me a sense of what you do but no idea how you do it or, more importantly, how well you do it. That’s why you need to focus on your brand.

Need some convincing? What creates a more lasting impression: “Coffee” or “Starbucks”? “Car” or “Ferrari”? “Talk show host” or “Oprah”? To stand out from the competition, you need people to “get” your brand, whether you’re an administrative assistant, plumber, or executive.

Titles have their place and show where you sit within an organization. But they’re only a small piece of what people use to get a sense of who you are. If you think like a businessperson—no matter where you decide to work or set up shop—you’ll realize that building your brand is part of the customer service you should be providing…