I have been in the working world for going on two years. After I received my Bachelor’s degree, in Organizational and Professional Communication it took me about 5 months to land my first “real” job. Before this, I had been working in customer service and office jobs since I was 15, but I’m talking about the first “real” job or “big girl/boy” job, that job in which you begin your career. Most people probably do not know what I do, so let me share.
I work a corporate job for Principal Financial Group, a global leader in the retirement industry. Specifically, I am a client service associate. I mainly assist my clients- business owners, human resources representatives, financial advisors, etc.- manage their retirement plans. Principal is a very great company to work for, because one of their main goals is to empower their employees. Having worked in such a positive and organized work environment for a couple years along with my studies in business communication, I have learned ways to stand out and be a highly successful employee no matter if you are working in a convenience store or corporate world or if you are an intern or entrepreneur. Follow these fours strategies to be recognized as an outstanding worker in any job.
You have to put in the hard work – don’t just show up to punch in and punch out. I am talking elbow grease, folks. Work hard and efficiently to get the job done, and when it counts, go above and beyond. Think about problem solving. Imagine you have a frustrating problem at work. The easy solution is to find a quick fix and move on to your next work task. The more impressive and dedicated response is to think critically and find a long-term resolution to fix the bigger issue than just the problem at hand right now.
Volunteer your work time to help others. If you hear a coworker struggling, offer to lend a helping hand. If there is a challenging task that no one is wanting to take on, sign up for it. This shows your initiative and willingness to take on a challenge. Also don’t be afraid to pitch ideas and suggestions when there is an open forum. Sharing your ideas tells your boss you are thinking big picture about the job.
You can also think about taking initiative in a social aspect. Get involved and join a committee within your workplace, perhaps a diversity committee or an event planning team. I personally have joined the Volunteer Committee and it is one of my favorite parts of the job. This also means accept the happy hour invite to connect with coworkers after work, rather than diving into your couch after work to binge watch your latest Netflix series.
As much as you need to step up, show your skills off and take on a challenge, you also need to display humility. This means accept criticism and learn from it. I know, ouch, criticism can be incredibly hard to swallow, but gulp it down. When you are new to a job, there is a lot to learn. Heck, there is always something new you can learn even if you’ve been in the same job for 10 years. Always be accepting of new knowledge and of the big one, CHANGE. Humility also means listening attentively to what others have to say and not being afraid to seek out senior colleagues and leaders when you need a little help.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
I’m sure you’ve been told to dress for the job you want. This is a great bit of advice, but I don’t follow it so strictly and don’t think it applies to many jobs. At my work place, there is a business casual dress code that has turned into very casual dress for many. The leaders have no problem with this, so on any given day you will likely see someone in dress pants, button down shirt and tie and also someone in a hoodie, jeans and sneakers. I like to land somewhere in between. No matter the dress code at your work, always, always, alway look polished and put together. This shows you put an effort into your image that you display to others and you are dressed and ready to get work done. While sports tees and hoodies are comfortable and things that I absolutely live in at home, they are not appropriate for the workplace if you want to be a stand-out employee.
DON’T FORGET YOUR MANNERS
Thank you and please should forever remain at the top of your vocabulary use. When someone collaborates with you or assists you (even if it is their job to do so), still say thank you. Everyone likes to feel appreciated for the work they do. Compliments make everyone feel good and make the work day move by. They can even help create relationships with your coworkers. PRO TIP: If you send someone a message on a job well done, include that person’s leader (if appropriate within the particular work culture), so the leader can recognize and praise them as well.
One last manner to remember: show up on time. I know it’s hard when your bed is holding you down come 6am. But arriving on time displays respect for your job, for your employer and for your coworkers.