Good morning, girls! Today I’m excited to share a fantastic post with you by Carolyn McCulley. I couldn’t help but think about you as I read it. It’s chuck full of important tips you should know before you land your first big job. Honestly, I’ve been working for eight years now, and I needed several of these reminders!
I’ve included the first of Carolyn’s four points here. You can catch the rest of her article over on TrueWoman.com (our blog for women who are a little older than you). By the way, we’d love to have you join our community over there as well. You’re a woman, after all, and the women there would totally benefit from interacting with you!
When I was hired for my first job, my father took me aside to give me an important insight. “Carolyn, you are motivated by gold stars, high grades, and lots of regular feedback,” he said. “But you won’t get that at work. Don’t expect praise for merely doing what you were hired to do. If you keep getting paid, you will know you are doing a good job.”
I’ve thought of his advice nearly every time I’ve received a paycheck. Over the years, I’ve learned other valuable on-the-job lessons, lessons that were amplified once I became a believing Christian. So for those who are beginning their careers, here are four key principles for on-the-job success:
1. Pay your dues. In any job, it’s important to understand you have been hired to fill a position on a team with one critical mission: to make and sustain the organization’s profitability. You have a role to play in this mission, but it’s not the starring role. In fact, you have to prove yourself to the rest of the team that you are worthy of that role. It’s called paying your dues. To that end, you need to know that no one really cares about how fulfilled you are—or are not—in this role. It’s not about you, but about the organization.
I lead a small documentary film company, but it’s not unusual that I receive unsolicited résumés. Most come with sincere letters explaining how much the applicant likes film, how the applicant grew up watching film, and how the applicant loves to travel and how filmmaking can provide that opportunity.
Honestly, I dismiss those letters right away. Don’t tell me how a job at my company can fulfill all your dreams. Tell me why I need you for my company’s critical mission. Then I will know you understand the big picture and that you might make a significant contribution.
Your goal with any new job is to figure out how to add value. Know exactly how your position contributes to the company’s bottom line. Be prepared. If you don’t know, ask informed questions, but only after you have done some research. Never ask busy people questions that you have not researched. I repeat, don’t make other people do your homework. Those of us who were already working when the digital age arrived marvel at the wealth of information available through “the interwebs.” Fire up your keyboard and do your homework so that you can come up with the one really insightful question that proves your worth simply because you figured out what was valuable to ask.
One more vitally important tip: Respond. As in, respond to your emails. Respond to your phone calls. Respond to your invitations. Never think it’s a good idea to ignore your boss, your clients, or your colleagues. Or anyone who is trying to throw a party, plan a wedding, or invite you to dinner, for that matter. It doesn’t matter if you “don’t do email” or you “don’t like talking on the phone.” Get a response back in a timely manner because it honors others’ work and time. These few practices will show that you understand the process of paying your dues and will help you move up in an organization.
Catch the rest of Carolyn’s post over on TrueWoman.com.