Monday, August 23, 2010

7 Tips for Getting Off to a Great Start in a New Job

It's a tough time to be entering the workforce. If you're in your first "real" job, there is a lot expected of you. You know the unemployment lines are long, and no way do you want to wind up there -- again. You want to make a good impression at work, with your colleagues and with your boss.

It's natural to feel a bit overwhelmed in your first days and weeks on the job, so I'm going to give you some really simple stuff you can do that will make sure you don't stick out like a sore thumb.

1. Eliminate "like" from your vocabulary. Or eliminate it as much as you can. This bad habit has, like, crept into nearly everyone's vocabulary, and like, it's annoying as hell. It adds no meaning to your communication, other than to make you sound as if you're unsure of what you're saying.

2. Learn to write in cursive. If you're not comfortable writing in cursive, at least be able to sign your name in cursive. And use black or blue ink at work. Leave the colored ink for writing your guest list for your Lady Gaga lookalike party.

3. Spell words correctly. This isn't a problem when you're on a computer, because spellcheck will fix everything for you. But when you have to sit down and write a note because no computer is available, you don't want any misspelled words. It makes you look bad. Period.

4. Answer the phone correctly. "Yo!" or "Hey!" is not the proper way. Answer the phone, giving your first and last name. Saying "Good morning!" is optional. If you manage to also tell the caller your department, you get an extra point.

5. Take a message. If you take a message, make sure you get the correct spelling of the person's name and the phone number (repeat it back). Nothing gets you on someone's sh*t list faster than messing up a message.

6. Wear a watch. Yeah, I know you tell time by looking at your smartphone. But this is the business world, and your co-workers don't want to see you looking at your phone all the time -- they think you're sneaking a look at your girlfriend's text message. Get a watch.

7. E-mails are not texts. When e-mailing someone, take the time to include a salutation ("Dear John"), and use words such as "please" and "thank you." Just as you would not pop your head into someone's cubicle and blurt "report due today!" and then pop out again, you shouldn't be so abrupt in an e-mail. While you may believe you are being concise and your friends are used to it, those in the professional arena may think otherwise. Curt messages can be perceived as rude, and that's never going to help you as a new employee.

What other quick tips are there for new employees to get off on the right foot?

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