When it comes to our professional life, all of us aspire for success. No one likes the ‘average’ label. No one aims to be ordinary. We all want stupendous success, and if you happen to be born a Millennial – roughly between the early 1980s to the early 2000s – you demand success as a matter of right!
According to this Forbes article, Millennials will constitute nearly half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. They already account for about 36 percent of the U.S. workforce. So, there’s no doubt in my mind that they represent an important demographic and on their success hinges the success of America.
But the problem is that Millennials are an impatient bunch at the workplace. They don’t want to simply climb the corporate ladder. They want to sprint up, preferably skipping a step or two in between and this post is targeted to all those out there who’ve just joined or are on the brink of joining the workplace.
While I admire your self-confidence and ambition, I would like to emphasize that the workplace is guided by certain rules. You can’t expect to make it big just by showing up at work. But if you follow certain ‘golden rules’, as I like to term them, you’re pretty certain to find success.
So, here’s a cheat sheet for workplace success:
Let me tell you in big bold letters – there’s no replacement for relevant education/training. When you enter the workplace, your education/technical or vocational training is the strongest weapon in your arsenal. Don’t take academic/training requirements of a job lightly. Don’t ever make the mistake of believing that you can charm your way into a job. Even if you’re able to, without proper training, you may soon find yourself struggling and stuck in a rut while others continue to rise up the ranks. Remember, you cannot learn everything on the job. You’re expected to know some of it before you start. That’s why you were hired!
No, employers don’t expect everyone who walks into their office to have relevant experience already. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some experience would give you an edge in the job market. It may or may not have anything to do with your chosen job. Maybe it’s just a summer spent waiting tables or volunteering at the hospital or an unpaid internship with a startup – anything that provides you real world experience will come in handy when you’re trying to work your way up in your job.
Often, in the exuberance of youth, we tend to engage in behavior that is deemed to be totally workplace-inappropriate. I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of maintaining professionalism at work. Whether it’s showing up on time, respecting deadlines, maintaining discipline and decorum, following proper attire, or being a team player – your professionalism and a no-nonsense approach to work will never go unnoticed.
Employers hire you because they have certain expectations of you. But let me tell you a secret – don’t be thinking that you can achieve corporate success just by fulfilling their expectations. To be truly successful, you have to time and again exceed expectations. How do you do that? By being more proactive in your role and taking initiatives. Display innate curiosity, take on more projects, assume additional responsibilities, and learn new skills. Sounds hard, I know. But you know what they say – it’s a jungle out there!
The modern-day workplace is a dynamic establishment where you have to keep yourself relevant by upgrading your skills, updating your industry knowledge, and being aware of the general market trends for career advancement. Networking is a powerful tool when it comes to keeping yourself relevant. Join clubs, become a member of professional organizations, attend conferences and events, connect with industry professionals (online and offline) whenever possible.
When we’re young, we have this arrogance of youth. Nothing seems unconquerable. Nothing appears unachievable. Nothing looks impossible. While this arrogance can take us places, at times, it can also bring us crashing down. One of the most underrated career advices I’ve doled out to youngsters is practicing humility. Don’t be boastful, know your limitations, acknowledge the possibility that other people may have better ideas, and never over-commit and under-deliver. Read this interesting paper on humility in leadership roles.
So, these are six golden rules to workplace success. Dig deeper and you may find many others. Are you ready to make them your mantra for success?
This is a guest post from Ray Holder, an independent career counselor. You can connect with Ray on Twitter: https://twitter.com/holder_ray .