1. Identify someone who is doing their job well, and pick their brains. Whether they’ve been there for six months or six years, everyone has something different to bring to the table. They’re a wealth of knowledge and tips, and they want you to be successful at your job because it makes their life easier!
2. Make your cubicle your own. This little space is practically your home away from home. The last thing you want is for it to look like a barren wasteland. Find out what your guidelines are and then tack up notes, lyrics from 80s rock songs, or pictures of your kid (or your cat, we won’t judge).
3. Snacks save lives. It’s a long time from clocking in until lunch time. Keeping a stash of high protein snacks, gum, and even chocolate can stave off the two pm slump and keep you bright eyed and bushy tailed after that last client who would not stop talking about her latest medical results. We know, Margaret. We know.
4. Know what you’re talking about. As someone very wise said to me on my first day while I clutched my notepad in trembling hands, “Confidence of a lion!” Clients want confidence. If they get the feeling you’re even the tiniest bit unsure, it causes them to doubt you. Or worse, demand to speak to your supervisor. Yikes. Have confidence! Don’t let anyone rattle you. It doesn’t matter what day you’re on, you can deliver. You’ve got this.
5. Come in on time. Whether you’re coming in at seven or noon, we all dread the sound of the alarm clock. Can you think of a more heart-wrenching noise? But the alarm clock also means money. So get into a routine early on. Know how long it takes you to get to work, get your coffee, and get clocked in. There’s nothing quite as embarrassing as coming in ten minutes after everyone else and you still don’t have your coffee.
6. Dedicate yourself to the job, but don’t let the job be your life. If you’re anything like me, you’ve had your share of jobs that sucked the very soul from you. These jobs made you hate even waking up in the morning because you knew once you clocked in, all you had to look forward to was misery. Hopefully with this job, that isn’t the case. Your job should give you a strong sense of pride and eagerness to excel. At the very least, it is paying your bills. If you have to, imagine a bucket at the door. Every morning place all of your worries and responsibilities in that bucket. Don’t bring them in. At the end of the day, leave your work worries in that bucket and go home. Tomorrow is a brand new day.
7. Don’t indulge in office gossip. It’s so tempting. You walk into the break room and there’s Brad, just ranting about how lazy and irresponsible Janet is. You know Janet. She is everything Brad is describing. Don’t. Join. In. And if you’re ever unsure, just THINK. Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If it’s not, just keep quiet and walk on.
8. Down time? Do time. It’s two o’clock and you haven’t had a call in 15 minutes. The room is silent save for the occasional tapping of keys. Perfect time to doze off, right? Not so fast. Do a little research! Look at ways to sharpen your skills. There are millions of articles available to you at the click of a mouse. Find something you can try out. Maybe you say, “No,” or “I can’t do that,” too much. Explore ways to reword these phrases more positively. Instead of, “That’s not my job,” give “Let me look into that for you” a chance.
9. Treat your clients and coworkers the way you would want to be treated. It’s the golden rule for a reason. Just three months into my first office job, I’ve had to deal with telemarketers and people I didn’t necessarily want to talk to. And it clicked with me. They’re me. They are on the other end of the line, nervous and trying to make a living. It changed how I spoke with them. I was never rude before, but now I speak with much more courtesy and kindness. This applies to clients as well. When you take a call, you have no idea if this person has just suffered a personal loss or what their day has been like. Empathize with them. Actively listen. Let them know you’re with them and ready to help. It makes all the difference in the world.
10. Remember it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes it can feel like it. You spend an hour on the phone with a client and still don’t achieve the results they’re expecting. You start making outbound calls and your first caller curses you out. Your finger is hovering over that Goodbye button. Breathe. As I’ve learned at this job, you have to be a duck. Let everything roll off your back. That last call may have been the worst of your career, but you survived it. It’s over. Take off the headset, get up and stretch, or drink some water and take a lap around the building. Do what you need to to clear your mind. Then come back, put your headset on, smile and take the next call. You can do this.