The interview was the easy part. Now that you have the job, how do you distinguish yourself from the rest of your peers? Don’t just perform your job description and be content with remaining backstage. Go to the light—the spotlight, that is, and use the following three pieces of advice to become an office rock star.
Manage Your Time Wisely
Time management is one of the most overlooked job functions for many young professionals. How many times have you started work on a project, only to become distracted by interruptions and other “micro” tasks?
Prioritization is key for a successful work life. If you’re a morning person, consider beginning the day tackling a project that needs your full attention and saving the inbox cleanup for the afternoon. Be mindful of colleagues’ schedules as well so that your prioritization does not delay their own tasks. Along with prioritization, set boundaries with colleagues and supervisors, communicating the times when you are most available. Knowing this upfront can help everyone be more productive.
It’s easier said than done, right? Fortunately there are many free tools to harness that procrastination. Use them. Go to Lifehacker and take your pick of the myriad hacks under “Productivity.” Have a Lynda.com account? There’s an entire section of videos dedicated to time management. A well-organized schedule will keep you on task and on target, helping you become a highly effective employee.
Listen, Learn, and Ask Questions
Have you noticed that colleagues don’t talk anymore? Everything is conducted through technology—e-mails, text messages, IMs. As great as these technologies are for increasing work efficiencies, intention and tone are often lost or misinterpreted in these messages.
Remember that you have to listen before you can learn. For both new and experienced employees, listening is key to defining your place, your direction, and your expertise. It’s your responsibility to listen to your boss, your colleagues, and your managers to figure out what is expected of you. Once you master the basics, keep going. Be aggressive in becoming an expert in your role, then branch out into others. Show your supervisors you are highly competent in your current role and that you are ready and eager to learn about new subjects.
If you don’t know, ask. I’ll say that again. If you don’t know, ask. It’s an incorrect stigma that asking for help means you’re “weak” or that you shouldn’t be there in the first place. Only when you ask questions will you get the answers you need to be successful in your current position and learn how to move your career forward. Employees who ask questions are seen as eager, involved, and most competent in their roles. Be that employee.
Seek Opportunities to Enhance Your Skill Sets and Showcase Your Passion
A smart professional looks for opportunities to take their skills and kick them up a notch. And it doesn’t necessarily have to involve moving on to a different position. Look for tools currently available to you through your company. Explore your department’s intranet for professional development videos. Look externally for an upcoming workshop, and ask your supervisor if it is something your company would pay for. Companies want to invest in their employees. But it is your responsibility to do the initial legwork and learn what’s available.
At the same time, you will also want to showcase your passion. Do your colleagues know you’re fluent in three languages? Does your boss know you lived abroad and wrote travel guidebooks on European countries? Speak about what you know and love without being arrogant. That passion may translate to your current duties, which makes you that much more invested in your job. Once others see that investment, they’ll turn to you and increase your responsibilities. Wouldn’t it be amazing to do what you love every day?
Then do it! It’s showtime. Put these three pieces together, work smart, and you’ll top the charts of your employer’s eye in no time.
About the Author A lover of all things public relations and marketing, Chasity Cooper is currently a community relations coordinator for the UNC School of Government’s online public administration program, MPA@UNC. With the savvy and hustle of a future CEO and the heart of a philanthropist, she aspires to one day become a fierce combination of Olivia Pope, Michelle Obama, and Claire Huxtable. Follow her on Twitter at @chasityscooper.