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How to Succeed on the Job

Man concentratingOnce you've made the big transition from job searching to landing the job, your next goal is job success. There are specific skills you need to know and use to be successful at your new position. Start by checking with your supervisor to determine your most important tasks and on what attributes you will be judged in reviews. Employers say more people lose their job due to poor work habits, rather than inability to do the work. The following suggestions are based on feedback culled from employers.

Employer Expectations

A positive attitude is one of the most important factors in achieving job success. Don't carry negative feelings into your new workplace. Deal with those emotions elsewhere.

Always be on time. How long will it take to get to work? Allow a few extra minutes for traffic problems and getting children to child care. Set an alarm clock to help you get up. Reliability and dependability will help you gain trust and respect from your new employer.

Strive for good attendance. If you need to be out sick, ask your supervisor the proper method of notification.

Know and follow all workplace rules, policies and procedures. Read the employee manuals.

Listen and learn. Be open to new ways of doing things, even if you were taught differently in school or on a different job. Don't be quick to find fault, criticize or complain until you can prove you can do something a better way.

Meet and exceed your employer's expectations. And if the expectations aren't clear, ask your employer to define them.

Learn all you can about your job before thinking about moving up the career ladder. Keep in mind you might not enjoy every aspect of your new job. Overcoming challenges at work may be still more appealing than not having a job at all. Now, let's look at several crucial areas in job performance.


A key component of any job is communication. When you need to talk with your supervisor, ask when would be a good time to meet. Consider your performance reviews opportunities for personal growth. Ask how you can improve. Most supervisors appreciate employees who are concerned about performance and want to improve. Your job success is also their success.

Ask for help when you need it. If you make a mistake, let your supervisor know immediately. Find out how you can fix it. Follow the proper chain of command. Discuss issues with your supervisor first.


Prior to starting the job, complete all of your appointments with doctors, dentists and others. Have an emergency plan for child care and transportation.

Be willing to learn new skills. Keep a record of classes you're taking that relate to the job. Review this with your supervisor when appropriate.

Take time in making new friends. Find positive and upbeat coworkers. Avoid negative, critical and gossiping people.

Be clean and well-groomed. Wear clean and job-appropriate clothes. Pay attention to how your coworkers are dressed. Avoid wearing strong fragrances.

Keep your personal life and problems at home. Don't use the employer's equipment and time for checking personal email, making personal phone calls, using the copy machine or resolving your personal problems on the job. If you're having trouble resolving personal problems, counseling, support groups or employee assistance programs may be useful.

Be patient with yourself and your employer. It takes time to become familiar with a new job and learn the ins and outs. It often takes a good six months before you understand and feel comfortable with every task, your team members, clients and responsibilities.

If an opportunity presents itself you should volunteer for projects and committees if your supervisor approves. These experiences will give you a chance to exercise talents that aren't required in your current position and help you create a larger network of contacts within a company if your volunteer role is internal. In case of an external volunteer assignment, you will see the same advantages while building a professional network of contacts that could help you find a job in the future.

Getting Along With Others

Always respect diversity in the workplace, recognizing that people with different backgrounds often come together to produce better outcomes.

Accept criticism as constructive. Don't become defensive or take criticism personally. Thank people for their input. Consider changing your behavior if it's warranted. If you're unsure how to handle a situation, check with your supervisor. Always be friendly to everyone and be willing to go the extra mile. This creates goodwill with employers, coworkers and customers.

Notice who your boss respects and model yourself after them. Find a mentor, someone who knows the employer and the job well enough to coach you or show you the ropes.

Show appreciation. Let your supervisor(s) know you appreciate their training, support, input and feedback. Some bosses want to hear, too, real results that may not be favorable to them, or you. That requires a level of honesty that can be difficult to display but is intrinsic to your success and that of your employer.

Strive to be positively recognized.

Be a team player. Be willing to help. Know the goals of your job and how your job fits into the overall organization. Avoid a know-it-all attitude. Try to fit in with the team. Keep your sense of humor.


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