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Achieving Success on the Job

You've made it past a crucial point in your career, getting a new job. So, is this the time to kick back and relax with your new employment? If you intend to keep that job and succeed in your career, it's time for the real work to begin.

Throughout the first year of employment, employers will be keeping tabs to make sure new employees are worth the investment. It's up to you, the employee, to prove that hiring you was a wise decision. To do so, carefully consider the goals you wish to accomplish with this job. Tailor your actions, words and appearance to meet those goals.

Doing what you were hired to do, and doing it well, is essential to being included on your employer's A list.

"Show initiative," says Linda Havers. She is the coordinator of career development with a college. "See what needs to be done and do it."

Havers has a suggestion on how you can learn what needs to be done: "Talk to people you identify as high performers about the challenges. Then, should an opportunity arise, perhaps you can solve the problem and become an asset to the company."

Brent Wood is a career counselor and co-founder of a career management company. He agrees that keeping up communication with co-workers is important when you're new on the job. "Find areas within the department or company where you can make yourself useful. Build up a skills base and connect with other members of the organization who can help you down the road," he advises.

Another way in which you can play a productive role in the work environment is to always be the first to volunteer. Through volunteering, you can demonstrate your willingness to take on additional responsibilities. That is a quality employers look for when it comes time for promotions.

Never show up for work late. Latecomers are likely to be labeled unreliable. Try to show up early. That gives you extra time to plan your day and make sure assignments will be done on schedule. If your work is always done on time, your employer will recognize you as someone on whom they can depend.

Dressing for success should not stop at the job interview. Be perceptive and take note of how those succeeding in your workplace dress.

"Think in terms of playing the game," Wood explains. "If you want to work your way up, abide by the culture of the company."

Like your attire, your attitude can speak volumes about your work ethic. Havers believes a positive attitude is a key factor in job success. A poor attitude can sometimes lead to termination. Complaining won't get you anywhere with your employer or co-workers. So, always try to have an upbeat and enthusiastic approach to your work.

Willingness to learn is a close second to productivity when it comes to important qualities. There are four things you can do to demonstrate to your employer that you're always open to new information.

1. Listen carefully. Listening is the best way you can learn about where you work and what is expected of you. Be sure to pay close attention to instructions.

2. Ask questions. "Better to ask questions than to do something and find out you're going down the wrong path. It also shows confidence and your willingness to listen," says Wood. Another good point about asking questions is that it gives you the opportunity to develop a mentoring relationship with someone. "This can be very valuable," Wood adds. "They can help you learn the ropes."

3. Be open to criticism. Never appear offended should someone criticize your work. Instead, consider what you can do to make it better.

4. Seek additional training. Find out what kind of training your workplace might offer to help you gain more skills that could be useful to your position. If training isn't offered, make your employer aware that you are seeking all possibilities to make you a better employee. Ask if he or she knows of any resource that you might use to further your knowledge.

Be honest about your abilities from the very beginning. "If you're dishonest on your application or resume as to what you can do, you might create enemies and people will read right through you. Plus you might get fired," says Wood.

It's much better to be up front about what you can and cannot do than to waste your or your employer's time with dishonesty.

Don't offer more than you can deliver. While a certain amount of confidence is respectable, overdoing it can put you in an embarrassing position of turning in mediocre work and highlighting your shortcomings.

You've worked hard and feel you've paid your dues. How do you approach your employer about a raise? "If you're interested in a raise, the best way of asking is by detailing your performance over the past six months to one year. What have you done and what can you do in the future?" says Havers.

Keep track of your accomplishments so you will be prepared for what can be a stressful career moment. Rest assured that your efforts will result in a bright career future.


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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.