I was once told that negotiating skills learned on a schoolyard are the same skills you’ll later use in an office, or even an interview. While there are days at the office this is entirely true, there are others days the opposite seems often more applicable.

My schoolyard negotiating tactics relied heavily on the tried and true phrases most parents utter when teaching a child appropriate behaviour and work ethic.

Recently I read a New York Times article titled “Rethinking what you’re mother told you”, that examined these phrases from an employer perspective. But, I think they’re also worth examining from an employee or job seeking perspective.

You know: Don’t judge a book by its cover; Better safe than sorry; Everything happens for a reason.

The phrases are plentiful, and there seems to be one to suit every situation.

But these phases that influenced my schoolyard behaviour don’t always stand up at the office, or during a job interview?

I often feel the contrary rings truer.

1. Do judge a book by its cover:

If you’re looking for a job trust your gut feeling about the job description. If it reads in a way that intrigues you or makes you feel confident that your skill set will be useful and appreciated then it may be something to investigate further, if not then skip to the next posting.

The same goes for interviews. Interviews are a two way street. The interviewer is judging your answers. You can do the same. An interview is also your time to decide whether or not the job and company will be a good fit.

2. Rolling stones gather the most moss:

Experience goes a long way. Most people will hold more than a few positions throughout their career. Some many even change careers entirely. What you learn along the way sticks with you and can help you succeed in your next endeavor. Keep in mind that you don’t want your resume to look like a buffet table. Even if you’ve moved around or changed careers, employers want to know you’re dedicated and committed.

3. When in Rome, be yourself:

Blending into the crowd is not the goal of an interview. You’re there to showcase your skills and to convey to the interviewer that you are the uniquely qualified candidate. It’s not the time to demonstrate modesty. You’re there to set yourself apart.

4. Better sorry than safe:

Taking calculated risks can be good for your career. Risks can help break new ground, discover new avenues, and create inspiration.

Doing something unique or out of the ordinary can also help a job search. In a tight economy people have create unconventional job search strategies that have made them stand out. Check out the Google map resume!

As long as it’s not hurting your career, calculated risk can be a good thing.

5. Everything doesn’t always happen for a reason:

There are things that are out of your control. If you don’t get selected for an interview, or if you do and don’t get the job there’s probably a reason but it might not be one you’ll ever know. The same can go for decisions that are made around the office.

So there it is. The phrases that helped on the schoolyard, don’t always pan out at the office or in a job search.

Are there other phases I’m missing?