Alumni Corner Oct. 2, 2014

October 2nd, 2014


Five honest ways to succeed in the workplace:

People go to college for a lot of reasons, but one of the main ones is to someday become a human being an organization deems “hireable” and worthy of receiving a bi-weekly transfer of funds known as “a paycheck.”

With that, here are five brutally honest tips for getting and keeping a job in today’s workplace.

1. Be likeable.

Your co-workers, much like babies or puppy dogs, need positive feedback. Give it to them. Building people up and being nice to them will make them like you, which is incredibly important, maybe even more so than being great at your job.

2. Bank on your reputation.

When you start a new gig, stay a few minutes longer than everyone else, say “Good morning!” to everyone and don’t be a jerk. You’ll need that credibility later on when you’re running late, struggling with a project or staring at a typo you just made in a company-wide email.

3. Don’t be a know-it-all.

It’s easy to make declarative statements (see the format of this column). It’s harder to ask questions.

Fact No. 1: The smartest person in the room doesn’t tell you what to do – they ask a question that prompts you to make a decision on your own.

Fact No. 2: In hiring decisions, managers will choose the candidate, all things being equal, who asked more/better questions during the interview.

4. Don’t make things worse.

Yes, not being a net negative in your department or on a project is an incredibly low bar to clear, but you will assuredly meet people who can throw even the simplest task into a state of chaos.

5. Make your boss’ job easier.

This should be your primary goal at all times. Your boss decides whether you keep your job or not and if you’re getting a raise or not. Keep them happy.

6. One bonus life tip! Surround yourself with people who are better than you.

Find a significant other who is smarter than you. Work for bosses that are more talented than you and a company where the people are nicer than you. Stay close to family and friends who are more selfless than you.

You’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, but if nothing else, appreciating all the great people in your life will keep you humble, motivated and happy.