Originally written for and published at Her Campus on Sept 21, 2015.
You’ve finally landed the job you spent months trying to find. Congratulations! Now that you’re settled in, finished with your training and starting to get a strong understanding of what the real world is all about, it’s time to find ways to stand out at the office.
Getting ahead doesn’t have to be a challenge, but it does require a little extra effort. Follow these tips and you’ll be moving up the career ladder in no time.
1. Volunteer to help out with projects outside of your responsibilities
Just because something isn’t in your job description doesn’t mean you can’t contribute ideas to different projects. Go out of your way to ask your supervisor or other coworkers if there is anything you can help out with. They will recognize your enthusiasm and appreciate the unique ideas and skill set you bring to the table. We aren’t suggesting you overload your plate with things you don’t have time for, but even the smallest contribution can go a long way. After all, helping others succeed will ultimately help your entire company succeed.
2. Review your work before submitting it
Though seemingly obvious, many people fall into the habit of thinking something is done when it isn’t. Remember in college (and high school) when your professors told you how important it was to proofread your papers? The same applies in the real world—it’s actually even more important than ever. Don’t hand in a project—or even send an email!—without reviewing it beforehand, as one small mistake can make you look foolish in the eyes of your supervisors.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of kindness
Some people view their job as a stressful place full of deadlines, endless to-do lists and grumpy coworkers. It doesn’t need to be this way! Having a positive outlook regarding your company and your position will not only benefit you, but others as well. Be sure to say hello, smile and be cheerful. Katie Hardesty, director of PR and special events at Cherry Hill Public Library, echoes the importance of this: “Work can be a stressful place, but it’s nice to be known as a person people like to be around. Who knows… that paired with your awesome skills and work ethic could be the key to your next promotion!”
4. Never turn down leadership opportunities
A leader is something you should always strive to be, especially in the workplace. When individuals recognize you as such, your career can grow exponentially. They’ll know you possess qualities of dedication, attention to detail and a natural ability to guide others. If someone asks you to take on a leadership role, even if it’s as simple as planning the holiday party, don’t pass it up.
5. Express passion and excitement for your work and your company
The old expression, ‘If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ is still true today. Being passionate about what you do helps make your job easier because you don’t see it as work or a chore. Even if you aren’t at your dream job (yet!), be sure to find a few aspects of your current role that you love and focus on them. If you demonstrate your passion for your job and company, your boss and coworkers will notice. Lisa Hoffmann, director of communications at Unite Here Health, believes that executives and bosses often find youth and excitement in the workplace to be invigorating and refreshing. “They will gravitate to you and spotlight you and your attitude because most leaders are looking for those who help create a positive work environment,” Hoffmann says.
6. Build relationships
Focus on building relationships with as many people in your office as possible, especially with your boss. If and when you end up leaving the company down the road, your coworkers, managers and executives can remain part of your network—and you never know when your paths may cross again or when you’ll need a recommendation. Shannon Smith, a marketing communications coordinator at Insulet Corporation, recommends having one-on-one meetings weekly or biweekly with your boss to not only check in on the status of your projects, but to have an opportunity to connect and learn more about him/her. Just remember to remain professional in all your inter-office relationships; you want to make an impression on your coworkers, but you want that impression to be a good one. Sure, you can be friendly and go out for happy hour with your coworkers, but save the drama and gossip for your girlfriends.
7. Listen and observe those around you
You’re new to your company and have a lot to learn, so take advantage by listening, observing, asking questions and learning from your coworkers, bosses and peers. “Even if you were a superstar student, you’re still brand new to your field,” says Cristin Farney, a public relations and advertising professor at Rowan University. “Think of your first job as the most important class you’ve ever taken and your first step towards the rest of you career.”
Your first job can be stressful, but if you follow these tips and strive to be your best, you’ll be an expert in your industry in no time.