Your first corporate gig might not turn into a failure just because you don’t have desk job skills, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to put your best foot forward. Working at a desk job or “corporate job” requires different abilities than other jobs (including essential roles in the food industry, healthcare and so much more).
As a CEO myself, I’ve seen new employees come in with limited knowledge in how to work in a professional environment. From first-hand experience, here are 5 newbie tips for working at your first job.
1. Stay organized, before the mess gets ahead of you
For many people, organization is their Achilles heel. There are a lot of extremely valid reasons for this. Mental health issues, physical health issues, you name it. However, it’s so crucial to find a system that works for you and stick to it.
Organization can take various forms, too. Your physical laptop is one thing, but there’s also your email folder, filing system, and planning platform.
Some companies may keep the digital side of things simple by using platforms like Asana, Monday, or any of the other team-based softwares out there. If yours is one of them, take advantage of it! It’s one less thing for you to organize.
2. Try to come up with your own solutions for problems
Asking for help is extremely important when working at any job, corporate jobs included. With that in mind, I have a really helpful tip for any newbie to the corporate or “professional” world.
Before approaching a superior about a problem you encountered, either internally or with a client, ask yourself, “What are some resolutions?” Even if you come up with awesome solutions on your own, you can still go to your manager or boss to confirm that it’s the right thing to do. Showing some initiative by thinking critically goes a long way in the office or remotely.
3. Manage your time wisely
Your time is yours to manage. Unless you get to the point in your career where you have your own assistant, no one is going to manage your time for you. Even then, there are some aspects of your day only you can control.
This means being aware of how much time you spend on social media. If you have to use StayFocusd (a really cool Google Chrome extension) then so be it! Do whatever it takes to be productive without burning yourself out, especially if you’re working remotely and unsupervised.
Don’t overbook yourself with meetings when you can get things done over email or a simple phone call. Automate whatever you can, too — this part can honestly cut your workload by a hearty fraction.
However, when you do have to engage in Zoom meetings, digital meetings, and physical ones, make sure you appear professional and always on time. Example: Keep your Zoom meeting background as uncluttered and as neutral as possible. Wear something appropriate. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised!
4. No one’s above pivoting
Before COVID-19 was a thing, goals were firm and roles were set. But the business world quickly became a place of picking up the pieces and moving them around.
If you want to be a truly helpful team member, be willing to pivot along with your colleagues. This doesn’t mean departing your expertise, but it might mean trying something new for the sake of the company and its clients. In short, know the difference between swallowing your pride and setting boundaries.
5. Speak up, but not over
Your team wants to hear what you have to say. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have hired you (and if they don’t want to hear what you have to say, maybe it’s time to look for a company that appreciates you).
When practicing speaking up to have your voice heard, be sure not to speak over others. This is 2020, and centering diverse voices who have been historically marginalized is of utmost importance. Don’t be the one to make someone’s seat at the table invisible with a single statement. You can join in on the discussion without taking away anyone else’s microphone.