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First impressions last and it's important you get yours right when you start your first job. Getting in your manager's good graces will put you on the fast track to success. Here are 14 dos and don'ts for getting a head start.
- Arrive early - Nothing makes a strong first impression like coming in - coffee in hand - before the clock strikes 9. Punctuality is a highly desired trait in workers as it shows dedication, organisation and initiative. So get into work early and get a head start on the day's work.
- Dress sharp - Taking some time to learn about fashion can help your career. Wearing neat clothes and (appropriately) accessorising leaves a lasting impression, particularly on clients. Your colleagues, clients and, importantly, your manager will notice the effort you're putting into your appearance and this will go a long way to earning their respect.
- Stay focused - It won't reflect well on your professionalism if you're seen paying bills or cruising Facebook every 15 minutes. Stay on task and if you need a break, get up and walk away from your desk - it's much better for your focus to get away from the screen rather than wasting time in front of it.
- Be honest - Made a mistake? Don't run from it or blame someone else. Tell the truth about what happened and why you think the mistake occurred. It takes integrity to admit you're at fault, and integrity is a tough commodity to come by in the business world.
- Keep up with the industry - Subscribe to blogs, join LinkedIn Groups and read specialist newspapers. Discuss the industry with your colleagues and gather opinions on the issues facing the sector. Demonstrate your knowledge during water-cooler chats and at lunchtime.
- Be proactive - It might be a cliché but if you see a problem, solve it! You're only slowing down the process if you wait to be asked to fix an issue.
- Try to beat your deadlines - Submitting work before it's due speeds up the process for everyone. It means the people who need to handle it after you get a head start. You'll be seen as a team player and a reliable character. So, tackle time-sensitive work as early as possible.
- Suggest one big idea - Think about what you want to bring to the organisation. Formulate what that idea involves and take it to your manager. Explain to them how it benefits the business and what needs to be done to implement it. Once you've got the boss onboard (this might be a long process), you can start bringing value to the company by deploying your idea.
- Get to know people - Networking is a big part of the business world and getting to know your colleagues is a great place to start. Also, your manager is sure to ask your colleagues what they think of you - so it's important they have the opportunity to form a (high) opinion of you.
- Stay too late - Some will advise you to stay longer than the boss because they think 'it shows that you're committed to getting the work done'. That is not necessarily true. In reality, all staying late proves is that you're not managing your time properly and so you're forced to cram to meet deadlines.
- Overload yourself - Know your limits and don't take on too much. If you overload yourself: a) you won't be able to finish your work on time, and b) you won't submit quality work. Don't just accept work because you want to make the right impression. From time to time, you need to tell people you're too busy to take on more.
- Forget to laugh - Not everyone has a sharp piercing wit, but bringing some jokes to the table - even if they're awful puns - it shows off your personality and that you don't take yourself too seriously. Your boss wants someone they can work with, but also someone they get along with.
- Forget anyone's name - Get flash cards if you have to, because nothing sets you back further than not taking the time to learn someone's name. Plus, people feel good about themselves when you remember who they are.
- Turn down any opportunity - If you're presented with something that's not part of your job description and given the chance to lead - jump on that opportunity ASAP.
These tips should help you not only impress your boss but become an office favourite as well.