Congratulations! You have been called for your very first corporate job! Yay! You are ecstatic, swimming in the sea of emotions. You are, everyday an inch closer to your dream!
…hang on, are you?
It is not as easy in corporate as it was in your community or in your school. But don’t worry, it’s not that bad. In fact it’s a very good place to contribute, earn a living and grow.
Here are 10 tips to help get you started (and going):
1. Time is Respect
I still subsribe to Time is Gold. Yes. However, for this discussion, I would emphasize “Time is Respect.” This is a very powerful non-verbal that cues the people you work with that you respect them.
Jasmine, our HR Associate, a fresh graduate, lives 30kms away from work. Yet, she always arrives early. Thirty minutes (often earlier) before start of her shift. This is usual for her.
Once, we went out the previous night which extended so late that I wasn’t expecting her to come in her usual time, but the lady respects herself and her teammates, she arrived earlier than all of us!
2. Keep Your Word
I’m talking about fulfilling your commitments.
R E L I A B I L I T Y. Repeat after me. Reliability. <your turn>. Yes, this is very important. Whatever field you’re in, if you said you’ll submit something, or that you’ll be there, then do so. Do as promised. Do as committed.
3. Keep Learning
Yes, folks. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but schools days ain’t over. The name of the game is continuous learning. Unless you continue to upskill yourself and upgrade what you know, you’ll stagnate. It’s very possible that 10 years from now, you’re still on the same role, assignment and pay range as you are today. That is, unless you continue to learn and put your learnings into practice.
There are many ways to learn – you can get certifications like CHRP and SHRM or whatever applies to your field (the Philippine HR Group hosts CHRP and other HR continuous learning sessions), you can enrol for a 2nd course or masteral, whichever is in the intersection of your passion and your career. You can take short courses, too. Lots of online learning tools available now. There’s Udemy for example. At the very least, there’s YouTube that also features videos you can learn from (I love Ted Talks and self-help vlogs like that of Amy Landino’s). There’s too many to choose from that there really isn’t any room for any excuse. 😉
4. Keep the Seeds, Throw the Weeds
Now, now, no one is perfect. Even your boss, the boss of your boss and the boss of the boss of your boss. Get the point? However, from everyone, there are lessons you could and would learn if you paid attention – skills, behavior, belief system, perspective in life, etc. So from everyone you meet, just remember to keep the seeds and throw the weeds. Learn what you can and whatever isn’t good, whatever isn’t in alignment with your own values, just be mindful not to mirror.
5. Talk about Events and Ideas, Never about Other People
Gossip. I was doing research a few months ago on how to extinguish this in the workplace and my finding was quite disappointing, really. Materials say that this is part of human nature and dates back to as far as the ancient times.
However, this should not keep us from still doing the right thing. Or using it, at least for good – positive gossip, rather than the bickering type. You know what I mean?
It’s also better to start practicing this at the onset of your career. You bring it with you as you move up the ladder. You also become more professional, trusted and credible. Talk about events that concern you or the nation or the world and the environment. Talk about ideas, no matter how impossible they seem. Talk about your own experiences, the things that you enjoy, and your realizations. If you have to talk about other people, let it be those who are present. Or at least, let it be something positive about them.
Lastly, on this topic, remember that those who negatively gossip about other people, will also gossip about you. Trust me on that.
6. Document. Document. Document.
While in the perfect world, your word is enough, this is not true in the corporate landscape. When you start working it is always good to document.
What do you document? Document agreements, minutes of the meeting, your response to a query, updates on what you are doing, when you have to follow-up, basically everything.
Why you need to do this? This helps you and the other parties remember what you agreed on (share what you documented with them, too) and something that you can look back to as needed. Believe me, it always comes in handy. 😉
7. Find a Mentor
Mentor. A mentor is a guide. Someone whose been there and is now ready to share time, learnings and experiences to others. They also help you network. They’ve been around longer so they can introduce you to other people who might be able to help.
Find one in your field. Many people will be happy to be a mentor. It is a way for them to give back as well and to help the next generation.
You can find them in your office, in FB forum or LinkedIn.
When you do find one, don’t be shy to ask if he/she can be your mentor. If he/she says yes (chance is greater it’s a yes :)) meet with them quarterly or every six months to to better build your relationship.
8. Understand the Why and Do the Right Thing
You will be asked to do many things. Newbies have the tendency to just go ahead and execute. However, not fully understanding what you are doing might get you in trouble.
On the other hand, asking the why questions is not only good for your image, but will also propel you to more meaningful and impactful contributions to the Company.
For example, someone I interviewed was asked to add something to the payroll account for a few employees, the account of his boss included. He did not ask. He thought he was being a good soldier. He kept on doing so for months. Until he finally felt uncomfortable and finally asked. To his surprise, his boss got mad at him, for asking. His boss got ‘offended’. He stopped inquiring and just went back to his usual practice.
Later on, during an audit, it was found that these additional line items were not supported by any document. His boss, as well as some of his ‘friends’, got additional pay, because of this line item.What’s worse? There’s no documentation to support that his boss indeed gave him an order. Long story short, he lost his job.
CK, our HR intern in my previous Company, always exceeded my expectations. ALWAYS from day 1.
From the types of questions that she asked, to her output, to her visual art, to her sometimes “crazy” yet very progressive ideas. Which I loved by the way, like mental health leave and such.
On her last day, I was just expecting her to do clearance and if she asked to leave early, I would have said yes to her. Instead, she kept on asking about the open requisitions and the requirements. I just kept answering her questions. I got busy with work so I did not bother ask why she’s asking so many questions. I was just so surprised to see an email from her. She created for me job adds for all the outstanding open requisitions. Very nice ones that would interest anybody.
Exceed expectations no matter what you see or hear other do. You will be unforgettable in a good way and will be sought after.
10. Be a Positive Force
Finally, be a good addition to the team. Shine your light, share your cheer, spread your joy. Do not be that teammate who constantly dumps trash on everyone else. Don’t be that teammate to expects other to please him/her. At work, ideally, no one is spoiled, no one is a brat and definitely, no bitching around (the bad kind of bitch). Ideally! Be that ideal person.
Finally, always be your awesome, most confident self!
Which one is your favorite of the 10? That one that resonates with you the most.
Inspired by and dedicated to Christine Kiere (CK) Hermosa and Jasmine Al-Nadabi. Both have reminded me what it was to be young, innocent and excited about joining the workforce. Both ladies are very promising; both ladies, I love!
Here’s to you and your batchmates as you continue to navigate the corporate jungle. No matter where you go, what you do, where you go and how high you climb the proverbial ladder, always be true to you!
Also read: 10 Health Tips for the Corporate Newbies