Let me begin with a short disclaimer: I love my job. It’s stressful and I work entirely more than a 40 hour work week (for example, I have an event this weekend—so I will probably work close to 50 hours this week), but I love it. I also work at a non-profit with about 50 employees, which may be the opposite of some people’s work situations. However, I do believe all this advice still applies.
Since I graduated college I’ve had quite a few jobs. This has mostly been due to the fact that I have moved quite a bit, even for someone in their 20s. Even with all the jumping around on my resume, I have never not received a job offer at a place where I have interviewed, I have never received a negative performance review, and my career history shows growth instead of stagnant state or decline—in fact, my current boss has recommended that I get a promotion above what I was expecting. I’ve done everything from teach children to fundraising, but now I am more than happy with my position that is mostly in marketing (probably because that was my major in school).
I find that the better I actually do at my job, the more my coworkers appreciate me and the more I like going to work! It’s kind of a no brainer. Here are a few things you can do to put you in the best position you can be to feel confident in your work and for your peers to feel confident in you:
- Have one-on-one face time with your boss at least once a week. This isn’t hard for me because my boss and I share an office, but it can be more difficult for people who work in a large office where people mainly communicate through email. You don’t need a formal meeting, you don’t need to be brown-nosing, just make some time to talk to your boss about projects you’re enjoying, things on the schedule, or (if your plate isn’t full) ask if there is anything additional you can add to your calendar to help with.
- Go above and beyond. This goes without saying, but some people need to hear it. If you care about your job, it doesn’t always stop at 5:00 p.m. at the office. Projects happen, things pop up last-minute, deadlines are always there. There are some nights I stay late and there are some nights I work from home so I can tackle all of the things I have to do. Should you be working like this every night of every week? No…however it pays to finish projects early, polish proposals, and put extra time into things, trust me. If you are lucky enough to work strict shifts where you clock in and out, there’s no harm in asking the next shift if they need anything before you go and consider yourself lucky that you aren’t staying late nights for extra work because you’re salaried!
- Help your coworkers, but be wise about it. Helping your coworkers shows that you are a team player, but it can be a double-edged sword and this is a thing I actually struggle with. If someone is incompetent and cannot do their job, no amount of you helping can ever fix that issue—you will just end up doing your job and theirs as well. How does that look to a manager? Not good. However, you can be a go-to, there’s some in every office. There are people I go to for extra proof reading and everyone comes to me when they have questions about fixing code, adjusting graphics, writing, and basically anything with a computer. In the past, I have just done things for people because I know I can get it done faster and better than they necessarily could, however, this is a disservice to me and the coworker at hand. Help appropriately and your coworkers will trust you and it solidifies you as a team.
- Keep cultivating, always. There are so many great resources everywhere, use them. I have found free webinars, blogs, survey’s, etc. about social media marketing, non-profit marketing, web design, the list goes on. If I keep up-to-date with trends, best practices, and continue learning I will always be on the top of my game. Most of the time, my boss is entirely happy to let me take webinars at work, but most of the things I do to stay on top of my game are at home. It’s empowering to know what you’re talking about—so put the time in effort in, you won’t be sorry.
- Did you make a mistake? Own it! Everyone makes mistakes, everyone. I have a reoccurring nightmare that I send an email out to 8,000 people with a subject like that includes the word “f*ck” instead of “duck”. This has never happened and it won’t because I have eagle eyes look at every digital marketing piece I sent out, but it’s always a concern. I have managed people and people have managed me, we all agree that one of our biggest pet peeves is when you don’t own your mistakes. Own it, apologize, drop what you’re doing to correct it, and move on!
- If you have a college degree, are you doing a job that requires a degree? If so, you’re better off than a lot of people (unless we’re talking about a job that requires specialized training like a trade school, graphic design, military, etc). A lot of college grads with degrees aren’t even doing a job that requires a college diploma, rather a high school diploma with experience in a certain area. Check your job requirements, if yours requires a degree (in any subject) and you have one—congrats! Not only are you using your degree, you are already more successful (on paper) than some of your peers.
- You need to be working full-time—and you are! After the recession, the job force came back in a half-step. There are a lot more part-time jobs for professionals than before, especially at smaller businesses—which are the backbone of the economy if you haven’t heard. I started off as a part-time employee because I wanted to have kids right after I got married, but I got the offer to move into a full-time position and I snagged it. I am looking forward to having kids, but I can’t imagine not working full-time. So if you are salaried or are working full-time and you need/want to be, pat yourself on the back!
- Do you like going to work? If Mondays don’t turn you into a complete troll, then you probably don’t hate your job and that’s a great thing. Liking your job does wonders for your quality of life because you spend so much time working!
- Listen to dropped hints. Of course, a performance review will tell you how well you’re doing, but if you need a more day-to-day measurement, pay attention to feedback and what you are asked to do. If you are asked to work on projects you’ve never worked on before, your boss tells you that she loves a blog you posted, or your peers ask your opinion or help with a project. This means people trust you and your capabilities—you’re on your way. Killing it!