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How to Get Off on the Right Foot
on Your First Job

by Ramon Greenwood

Graduates of class 2005 who have landed their first career job are facing the reality that the paths to success in the real world of work are vastly different and more demanding than those of academia.

Here are 10 common sense guidelines that can make their journey smoother and more rewarding, according to Ramon Greenwood, senior career counselor,

CommonSenseAtWork.com, a not-for-profit service organization engaged in providing information on strategies for career success

1. Realize the scoreboard is operating from day one. But don't expect to conquer the world in six months.. Hit the ground running toward specific goals. Master the fundamentals. Seek out responsibility, but never take on more than you can deliver in a first-class way.

2. Work, work, work and then work some more. No substitute, no short cut will replace work. Immerse yourself in your work. This means more than working diligently from eight to five. Take work home. Never miss a deadline and deliver what your boss orders, even though you may not agree with it.

3. Arrive early and stay late. Get to work 30 minutes before the specified starting time. Take this period, before the interruptions start, to get routine chores out of the way and organize your day's work. Often you will find your boss is in early, also. (That may have something to do with his being boss.) It's a great time to get better acquainted with him. Ask for that extra information and guidance you need.

Stay at least 15 to 30 minutes after the regular hours. Clean up your work place. Make a list of actions you will take the next day.

4. Don't be afraid to ask questions and seek help when you have gone as far as you can go on a project. You are not expected to know everything. Asking for help is a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness. Seeking assistance shows you are confident and focused on the job. Find a mentor who is willing to provide coaching and share experience. (This will not be difficult to do; most people like to be asked for advice.)

5. Learn how the machinery of the organization works. Absorb the folklore. The processes may be quite different from what you read in the training and policy manuals.

6. Don't join cliques or deal in office politics; leave the gossip to others. None of these is good for your career health.

7. Respect the hierarchy. The organization is bigger and stronger than you are; you can't change it in the beginning. The sooner you accept this fact, the better. You have a boss and the chain of command is real. You are not likely to "make it" as a rebel.

8. Know the business of the business--its objectives; what it does, what it sells and what values it represents. Learn how your job fits into the overall picture.

9. Adapt to the environment. Observe the style of dress and be guided by it. Is business done in an informal manner or strictly by the rules? Is the primary mode of communications by memos and formal meetings or by face-to-face discussions and chance meetings in the hallways?

10. Be loyal to the organization. Loyalty to organizations may be declining, as some say, but it is still highly valued.

These guidelines do not guarantee a pot of gold, but one thing is certain: they raise the odds for success.


Ramon Greenwood is Senior Career Counselor for www.CommonSenseAtWork.com. He is a former Senior Vice President at American Express, a published author and syndicated columnist, a professional director and an entrepreneur.

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