Office Etiquette For Your First Real Job

The job market is a battlefield, especially for young professionals—like me—who graduated from college and are competing for a place to call their second home.

As I’ve navigated my way through a maze of cubicles and desktop computers over the years, I gathered some personal tips on workplace etiquette along the way, and hope they’ll provide some insight as you too, young Padawans, find your niche in the professional world.

Do your research: Before a job interview, find out more about the company’s social culture and who you might be working with. If there’s a person of interest you’d like to shadow, tell them. If the company participates in charitable fundraising events, and you’re interested in getting involved, tell them. Doing research will not only impress your panel, it’s a surefire way to put your career goals into perspective.

Don’t be negative: Seriously, who wants to hire or work with a drab who has a dark cloud hovering over their head? Mark Murphy, a best-selling author of Hiring for Attitude and CEO of Leadership IQ, told Forbes that top companies are looking for people with proficient job skills and an upbeat attitude. While job skills can be taught, a good attitude cannot. Just remember; a positive attitude is contagious, so smile wide and turn on the shine. I know, that last sentence sounded cheesy, but just go with it!

Do buy a box of “thank you” cards: While you’re networking and establishing connections, keep note of those who helped you along the way. Taking the extra step and delivering a thank you card for a letter of recommendation, a full-time position, or anything in between, says a lot more about you than sending a generic email.

Don’t just sit there: If it gets slow around the office, the best thing to do is get busy. Stock shelves. Stuff envelopes. Ask your co-workers or boss if they need help with anything. Do whatever needs to get done to make the office run a little smoother. Trust, your contributions won’t go unnoticed.

Do pack some snacks: It’s a scientific fact that healthy snacking between meals boosts brain activity, promoting intellectual tasks. So if you’re stuck in the office or on an assignment, you’ll be mentally focused to exchange ideas or handle setbacks at any time.

Don’t spritz scented cosmetic products at a shared workspace: Just don’t. It seems silly, but it happens; because there are those who think the heavy scent of piña colada perfume or rich mahogany cologne wafting through the office smells pleasant, but there’s a chance someone with allergies is glaring at you nearby. If you want your workspace to smell like Ron Burgundy’s apartment, at least find out if anyone in the office is up for it. More than likely, their answer is no.

Do take accountability for your mistakes: We’ve all scooted past the boss’s office at some point in our careers, hoping they wouldn’t catch us walking in late. Mistakes happen, and your boss understands this, but don’t stack on excuses like a shield to soften the blow. Your boss will respect you more for owning up to your mistakes and learning from them.

Jennifer Calderon is a San Diego-based writer and blogger who has a mild obsession with Instagram pets and all things cute and cuddly. She also hopes that she’ll be cool enough to join the cast of The Big Bang Theory if she learns more about theoretical physiology. You can read more on her website, or follow her on Twitter @cantmissjenjen.

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