New Grads: Be The Employee You Would Hire

This post was written by Amanda Haddaway, author of Destination Real World: Success after Graduation and Interviewer Success: Become a great interviewer in less than one hour, on behalf of the Happy Grad Project. It’s time to turn the tables on the way that we think about employment and the integration of college hires into the workplace. New grads need to be the employees that they would want to hire if they owned the business. Related: How To Be The Ideal Employee For Any Company What do I mean by that? Quite simply, be the best employee you can be when you’re given the opportunity to start a career with a new employer. College teaches you skills in your chosen career field, but there’s often little emphasis on those ever crucial soft skills. Successful employees master these traits early on in their careers. Soft skills include things like being professional, being punctual, being flexible and using effective communication skills. Let’s talk more about these things:

Be professional

We only get a few seconds to give people a first impression of us, so we all need to work on giving off a polished and proficient appearance. This may include things like doing our work to the best of our ability, dressing the part (always within the dress code parameters) and seeking out training options as they become available. It might also include volunteering to take on additional projects and working hard to prove yourself in your new workplace.

Be punctual

Your co-workers are counting on you. Half the battle to being successful is just showing up. If you’re not there, how can you be involved and know what’s going on in the organization? Plan to arrive to meetings a few minutes early to prepare. Remember, if you’re always early, you’re never late.

Be flexible

It’s likely that your first few years in the workforce aren’t going to go entirely the way you may have envisioned when you were defining your career path as a part of your capstone project senior year. That’s OK. Accept that opportunities come at unexpected times and learn to embrace changes within your career path. Some of those unexpected challenges might lead you to your true, and potentially unknown, passion.

Use effective communication skills

Communicating with your college roommate and having a conversation with your boss may look very different from each other. That’s right, I said conversation. The workplace is still very reliant on person-to-person communication either in meetings or in phone conversations. Texting abbreviations and sending one word responses to emails may not cut it in your organization, so learn the communication norms and embrace them. Another part of effective communication is being engaged. When you’re in meetings, put down your phone, and stop texting and emailing. Instead, try to participate in the conversation and really listen to what your colleagues are presenting. You’ll also need to be responsive in your communications. When you receive an email or voicemail, make an effort to respond in 24 hours or less. If you can’t provide an adequate response in that timeframe, at least respond to the sender and let him/her know that you’ve receive the message and you’re working on it. These skills aren’t difficult to master, but so many new hires don’t realize their importance. If you can become proficient in these areas early in your career, you will experience greater and faster success.

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