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Standing out — in a good way

2 min read


One of my favorite parts of my job is speaking to college seniors, and yesterday I visited a class at the University of Maryland’s Career Center. The topic was new employee success and etiquette. I offered up these 5 rules for making a good impression at your first job:

  • DO listen more than you talk. As a new employee, you need to focus on soaking up the culture of your new workplace, as well as mastering the specific tasks you’re assigned. When your boss wants your opinion, he or she will ask for it.
  • DON’T assume that you too can break “the rules.” At most organizations, seniority comes with flexibility – in terms of dress codes, working hours, even little things like listening to music while you work. You don’t have that yet.
  • DO respect people’s time. By all means, ask questions, but do so politely and always thank people for their help. Always be on time for any meetings. Pay attention during any training sessions you attend.
  • DON’T make a mess. Communal kitchens are a sore spot in many offices. Don’t contribute to the problem by leaving your Chinese takeout in the fridge for a week or piling up dirty dishes. It might seem petty to you, but somebody is bound to be keeping score on this.
  • DO be kind and polite to everyone. The only thing worse than a young worker who is rude to everyone is one who’s rude to some people and super-duper nice to others. No matter what your job, you owe everyone else in your company your respect, from the cleaning staff to the CEO.

What would your list of do’s and don’ts for new workers look like?

Image credit, Mike_el Madrileño