keysStarting a new job can be overwhelming. Especially your first “real” job in a field you have chosen as a potential career path. Because my experience is mostly in law firms, this post is more geared toward an office environment, but can be slightly modified to fit any workplace situation.

Here are some tips that I have found helpful for succeeding in the workplace:

1. Always have a pen and paper. When called into a meeting with your boss, or even to a coworkers desk, be prepared with a notepad and pen. You never know if you will be assigned a project and may need to jot down some notes. If you forget, race back to your office as quickly as possible while repeating the task over and over until you can write it down. (You may get a few weird looks, but you will remember the task, and more than likely your pad and pen next time!)

2. Be a team player. No task is beneath you – whatever your position may be. Be willing to lend a hand and pitch in if your workload allows you to. It is an excellent quality to have and is the sign of a true leader. Willingness to help others makes you stand out as an employee.

3. Say good morning. To everyone. Speak to co-workers and management when you meet them in the hallway. Smile and say hello. A positive attitude and a friendly disposition will raise morale in the office and is appreciated by all.

4. Keep chit-chat to a minimum. While it is important to be friendly with co-workers, try to avoid getting caught in a lengthy discussion about a co-workers weekend plans or the latest episode of [insert cool show here]. You are being paid to work, not to chat all day, and management takes notice of these side conversations.

5. Put down your cell phone. We are all guilty of checking our personal email, text messages, and even Facebook (gasp!) during work hours. Family matters may arise that require you to be in contact. But do what you can to keep personal calls/texts to a minimum during work hours. Management notices this too.

6. Own your work product. Take pride in what you do and do the best job you can. Attention to detail is important. There are two types of employees: (1) the employee who is just there to collect a paycheck; and (2) the employee who takes pride in their work and cares about their job. You want to be the latter.

7. Also own your mistakes. We all make mistakes. Avoid making excuses or blaming someone else. Acknowledge your error, and do what you can to fix it. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

8. Take initiative. Put in the extra effort to go above and beyond, while being mindful of the task at hand. Don’t necessarily stray too far from the project you were tasked with, but don’t be afraid to voice your ideas if you see room for improvement.

9. Try first – seek help second. If you are given an assignment and don’t know what to do, use any resources available and try to do as much as you can before you go back to your boss for clarification. They will appreciate that you gave a solid effort rather than just saying “I can’t do this”.

10. Mind your own. There will always be people who don’t work as hard as you do. It can be very discouraging to work diligently, only to see coworkers perusing the internet, chatting and wasting time. Just keep doing what you are doing and trust that, yep – you guessed it, management notices this too.

I hope you find these tips helpful. At the end of the day – the most important advice I have is this: love what you do. Or at least like it a lot. It isn’t always possible, but it makes it a lot easier to go to work every day if you are interested and engaged.

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