To quote a famous frog, “It ain’t easy being green.” I see tons of advice blogs on the interwebs every spring on how new grads can ace that first job interview or snag that first job. What I’ve found lacking is some office guidance for the newbie on the payroll. So for all you recent grads who have already landed that first job, here are a few tips to help you hang on to it.
It Pays To Be Positive
I have this speech impediment that keeps me from sounding sincere when I say things like “good for you” or “of course I don’t mind doing that project over again.” At the same time, my eyes tend to roll back in their sockets, an entirely involuntary response, of course. Sometimes knowing your faults is better than knowing your strengths. With moderation in mind, there’s nothing wrong with trying to be at least the runner-up in the Miss Positivity contest. It will take you further than you might think. While it’s a struggle for me to see the bright side on a regular basis, nobody (including myself) likes a Debbie Downer. Don’t be that guy or gal that seems to be the constant complainer, especially if you are the new kid. Negativity is a difficult first impression to shake.
It’s Getting Hot in Herre
Every workplace is different. Taking the temperature of your new workplace is essential. I’ve worked places where the women cursed like sailors, half the men had life partners, and a tie with khakis was considered “casual Friday.” Still, the “I gotta be me” mentality may not translate the same in every workplace. While it’s essential to be genuine in the office, whether your environment is conservative, liberal, or moderate, you also don’t want to be on the wrong side of workplace etiquette. Once you get a better handle on the company culture, you can break out the Birkenstocks, if applicable. If not, just leave them in the car ’til 5 o’clock rolls around.
Less Talking, More Listening
“Knowledge is power” is not only a cliché, but also a truth. So who’s got the 411 in your workplace? Everybody’s got a story to tell, including every co-worker you’ll be meeting in the next few weeks. You don’t want to come off like Nancy Drew or the new Sherlock Holmes, but a simple question to one of your new peers could provide much insight into your new job or how your new department functions. In the greater scheme of things, ask the right question to the right company veteran and you might gain insight into how your company operates that could be beneficial for years down the road. At the very least, that employee will get the impression that you are somewhat interested in your co-workers, which can make you a popular new hire.
Don’t Get Voted Off the Island
Office politics may mean honing your survival skills to last in some of the more treacherous workplaces. Though you may be a great employee, some co-workers might want to use, abuse, or take advantage of you just because you’re new to the game. What may appear as the most well-meaning co-worker may actually be someone looking to blindside you or use you for his or her own benefit. While the most successful workplaces are collaborative, constructive, and innovative, prepare yourself just in case you end up in a department that is stressful, dysfunctional, and ineffective. Here’s hoping you are in the former, but at least you’ll now be better prepared if yours turns out to be the latter.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Training
I’m a training guy, so you knew this was coming. Every new employee goes through at least some amount of training. The quality of that training varies greatly from organization to organization. Most likely the effectiveness of that training in your newfound career may seem sketchy at best. Make sure you don’t come off under-qualified, or even worse, unqualified for the position you have attained. If a certain amount of training is required for you to do your job properly, don’t be afraid to ask for it, whether you’re the new kid or not.