For a recent college graduate, there are few things more exciting than nailing an interview and being offered a job.
But making the transition from student to successful professional can be incredibly nerve-wracking.
How do you actually keep that job, and begin moving upward into positions with more responsibility and reward?
We wanted to help students in business administration training get a competitive edge at their first office positions. So we rounded up advice from business leaders, HR experts, and hiring managers about what really matters during those first few months at a new office job. We're talking beyond the obvious, "show up on time", "dress professionally", and "do your work" type of advice.
Follow these words of wisdom to stand out, get noticed, and ultimately get rewarded for your hard work and the training it took to get this far.
Offer Extra Help Around the Office: Generosity is Key
True generosity in the workplace is actually quite rare. Most people are so concerned with meeting their own deadlines, dealing with their own challenges—even competing with colleagues— they don't consider lending a helping hand to others.
Leadership expert, veteran author, and LinkedIn influencer, Jeff Haden cites being helpful as crucial to business success:
"Great employees spend the majority of their time helping other people succeed: Their company, their employees, their customers and vendors and suppliers... the list goes on and on"
So how does this principle apply to new business admin grads starting out in entry-level positions? Helping out could mean:
- offering to make copies or help set-up technical equipment for a meeting (when it's not typically your job to do so)
- volunteering to put all the dirty dishes into the dishwasher and tidy up the kitchen area (big points for this one)
- making fresh coffee when you notice the pot is empty
- bringing occasional treats for the office staff (muffins, doughnuts, fruits, etc.)
- staying late and coming in early to put in extra work on your own tasks or help your boss meet a tight deadline
- simply asking a co-worker who seems stressed, "is there anything I can do to help?"
Maintain an attitude of generosity. Always be on the look-out for ways to assist, above and beyond your official job description. Countless business leaders hail generosity as one of the most important (and often overlooked) secrets to building a positive reputation at work.
Don't Complain: Positivity is Way More Important Than You Think
Women’s leadership speaker and workplace consultant, Selena Rezvani wrote an entire article for Forbes about the negative results of complaining at work.
She speaks about her own experience in an entry-level office position, fresh out of college, feeling frustrated about her work environment. Rezvani, and countless others like her, quickly learned that complaining at work is highly damaging to your reputation, motivation, and overall likeability.
Here's what she says complaining tells your co-workers and employer about you:
- You're unproductive (too busy complaining to actually get your work done)
- You probably gossip and complain about them too (you're critical and unkind)
- You can't be trusted
- They shouldn't get close to you or associate with you
- You don't take responsibility (because you blame others for your problems)
Research shows that employers value positivity and likeability (getting along with peers) above almost all other traits—even skillset! Entrepreneur recently highlighted a survey showing that 78% of employers consider a positive personality even more important than actual job-related skills. Now that's food for thought.
Share Your Ideas: Be a Contributor at Office Meetings
This one can be tough when you're new at the office, and have only just graduated from business administration training. However, if you're looking to differentiate yourself and get noticed, contributing positively during meetings or informal discussions is a must.
What does sharing your ideas mean for entry-level business professionals? We're talking about:
- suggesting ways to improve an administrative procedure (like a new app to manage files, schedule meetings, manage projects, etc.)
- participating in problem-solving brainstorming sessions (for example, if your supervisor mentions a client is dissatisfied and complaining, you would dig deep to offer possible solutions)
- throwing ideas into the ring when your department supervisor calls a meeting to discuss a new product launch, marketing campaign, contract, etc.
Start small. Build your confidence by making a few small comments here and there. Try your best not to remain completely silent during meetings—and really push yourself to think creatively. Why? Because sharing ideas highlights attributes employers tend to prize above all others: creativity, strategic thinking, dedication, and problem-solving.
These characteristics rank at the top of many, many lists of most-wanted workplace skills.
And there you have it. Remember the three golden rules of 1) generosity; 2) positivity; and 3) participation and there is little doubt you will stand out—and move up—at your first business job after graduation.
Haven't enrolled in training yet, and still looking for a trustworthy business college in Ottawa?
Get started by looking at Herzing College's Business Administration Program, delivered at our Ottawa campus. Training takes just 6 months to complete, and covers a range of essential skills and knowledge, including accounting and payroll, database software, presentation skills and software, spreadsheets, and client management.
Visit the program page to browse the full list of business administration courses, career options, or to chat live with a knowledgeable advisor. We'll help you get started!