While knowledge, talent and ability are crucial to your success in the workplace, it cannot be stressed enough that there is an emotional and social component to a flourishing career, as well. Image and impressions can propel your career forward or send it into a tailspin from which you may never recover. Are you doing all you can to project your best possible self?
- Yes, you do want to stand out in the workplace. You need your talents to shine. It is also important to fit in while you stand out with your workplace culture. Abide by the general standard of dress, whether it’s formal business attire or ultra-casual. Find common ground with your co-workers so you don’t seem aloof.
- Don’t shun after hours social events. You may not be the type to hang out at the bar at the end of the workday, join a sports team, or participate in other post-work activities, but this is a valuable opportunity to network with colleagues. You never know when the people you know provide the next step on your career ladder.
- Work at crossing generational barriers. Those who are younger than you have fresh ideas and a different take on the world. Those who are older can contribute experience and a clue on how to survive the dog-eat-dog world of business. All generations have to work together and it is a point in your favour to be the ambassador of cooperation.
- Be the voice of optimism in conferences and meetings. Everyone knows why a proposed plan might not work. Try to be the optimist that wants to be gung-ho about the positive aspects of the new ideas. In other words, be a team player, not a roadblock to the future.
- Be inquisitive, on your first day of work and every day thereafter. Giving the impression you are always eager to learn will give you a reputation as a leader and a visionary. The future is always about change. Learn everything you can, even if it doesn’t seem relevant at the moment.
- Avoid forming alliances with co-workers. You are there to work, not to form a social clique. While it’s important to be friendly with everyone, it is equally as important to refrain from taking sides when it comes to office drama.
- Arrive for work every day with the same enthusiastic attitude you brought with you on day one. Don’t drag your personal issues or lousy mood into the workplace with you. You won’t benefit by earning the reputation of being moody.
- Keep your workspace orderly. While good housekeeping may seem like a silly point to ponder in the workplace, the first impression many people will have of you will be that of your surroundings.
There’s no question about the importance of putting your best foot forward in any workplace environment in which you find yourself. Just remember, a career decision made now does not have to lock you into place for the rest of your life. If, in spite of all your efforts to create the work environment that fits you and your personality, you still feel you are a square peg in a round hole, you always have a way out. Use your skills to find the almost perfect fit that benefits both you and your employer.