How to Get Away with Murder is a hit drama on ABC starring Emmy Award winning actress, Viola Davis. The show has cultivated and intrigued a huge fan base. There are several career lessons you can learn from the characters—and the drama that follows their every move—from trying to cover up a murder of self-defense, to attempting to find out who killed their friend.
The main lessons are to trust no one because everyone is only out for themselves. It pays to work for influential people. If you want to get ahead in your career, you need to be singularly minded in achieving your goals. And don’t be afraid to get creative when necessary. Consider these career lessons and read on to dig in a little deeper.
1. Only Trust Yourself
You need to be your very own #1 fan. No one else is going to be looking out for ways to catapult your career toward success like you will. In being your own fan, you need to trust only yourself. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to be an island unto yourself and never genuinely connect with others. However, it does mean that your #1 priority must be to look out for what’s in your best interests for career advancement. Don’t allow yourself to trust the wrong person—like a back-stabbing colleague who stole your well-deserved promotion. Be on your toes at all times. You need to be on high alert so that you can spot any political maneuvering in the office that can sabotage your career goals.
Annalise constantly tells her staff to trust no one but themselves. Sure, she makes certain to add in the caveat that they should trust her if they want to survive and make a career for themselves—not to mention, also survive and get away with murder! Annalise is the best example of how trusting no one, but herself has allowed her to become a prominent Philadelphia attorney. Yes, she has her trusted sidekick, Frank and right-hand girl, Bonnie. However, they don’t know all of her secrets. No one does. She’s made a name for herself as a ruthless winner because she knows how to handle every type of situation by trusting her gut, her brains, her powers of manipulation and her trusted inner circle.
2. Work For The Big Guns
Career-minded individuals realize that working for the big guns can catapult their professional life to new heights. Sometimes you may need to tap into your professional network in order to secure employment with people that you know or employers who are connected to friends of yours—even if you have to go down the line to friends of friends of friends. Do whatever you have to do in order to get connected to the big guns. In the show, Annalise Keating is an intelligent and savvy attorney who knows how to win cases and do what’s necessary to beat the odds. Her young college protégés have been chosen to work at her firm because they have made it to the top of her class on criminal defence, or as she calls it how to get away with murder.
Being connected to the big guns works in their favor because—when the sh**t hits the fan, and they murder Annalise’s husband in self-defense—she comes to the rescue in a big way. She does what is necessary to keep them safe and off the radar of the police department. Annalise Keating has her trusted muscle, Frank, plant evidence to frame her boyfriend, Nate—who happens to be a police officer. Talk about doing what is necessary - backstabbing the one you love.
Of course, Annalise had an end game in mind. She knew her long-lost college friend and ex-lover, Eve (also an attorney) would fly down from NYC to save the day and represent Nate, getting him exonerated. So, when you have a problem at your job or want to advance your career, make sure you have chosen your boss wisely. Sure, he’s technically chosen you. However, really, you’re the one who needs to facilitate the right boss finding you!
3. Be Singularly Minded
Another important lesson to learn from this show is that you need to be singularly minded if you want to be successful in your career. If you lose sight of your career goals because you took your eye off the ball, you could end up derailed from advancing your career toward success. Be focused on doing your work each day and hone that determination to never give up on becoming better at your job. Singularly minded individuals will catch the attention of their managers and will be added to the short list for upcoming promotions. Your boss is looking for employees who know how to be productive and determined to do their part to make the company succeed.
One example of a singularly minded character on the show is Wes. He is like a dog with a bone who won’t let go until he does what it takes to clear his girlfriend, Rebecca’s name from murder charges. He is constantly fighting to prove her innocence. She goes missing, and he doesn’t have proof, but he believes she was murdered. His assumptions are correct, but he has no way to prove it and has no idea who the killer is.
His singular minded behavior gets the attention of Annalise, who has to lie to him (Annalise knows that Bonnie killed Rebecca out of a false sense of guilt to protect her boss)—and then sends him on a wild goose chase of Frank’s making. Wes’ behavior also gets the attention of his fellow law students as summed up in Michaela’s statement, “Everything wrong about our lives is because of you.” Basically, if he wasn’t in love with Rebecca, he never would’ve asked for Annalise’s help in trying to clear her name. However, his singular minded behavior gets him positive results.
4. Get Creative in Your Job
There are times when you need to get creative in your job and do things that other people may not want to do. Ok, so this is not advocating that you cease to operate under ethical standards and start stealing trade secrets from your boss to get ahead of a competitor and advance your career. Rather, you need to do what’s necessary when the time calls for creative measures. On the show, Annalise expects her protégés to think outside the box and get the job done. For one of the big court cases that Annalise is working on, she tells Michaela to “use her boobs” to get one of their male clients to start talking about whether or not he was sleeping with his adoptive sister. Both the brother and sister are accused of killing their adoptive parents.
Another time, Connor takes the initiative and asks his boyfriend—who has mad computer skills—to hack into the state adoption agency database to find out information about the client’s birth parents. If you want to propel your career forward, you may have to consider ways of getting creative in your own job. Do what’s necessary to impress your manager or boss with your own deductive reasoning that can help you win a court case for a client, or how to save the day by taking that important client out to lunch, so he re-signs that marketing contract.
So, obviously, we hope that you won’t ever try to get away with murder. But, hopefully, you can take away some important career lessons from this show.
Are you a fan of the show? Do you think that these are good career lessons?