Keeping Your Job

Congratulations! You worked hard to get a new job, and you succeeded. Even though you're celebrating, you might be a bit nervous about starting work, and wondering what you can do to make sure you succeed at your new job. The following tips should help you get off to the right start, and help you make sure that you're not just good at getting jobs, you're good at keeping them, too.

Figure Out What Your Employer Expects from You

A simple way to get ready for a new job is to think about what your employer will expect from you. From the minute you start your new job, listen carefully when your employer mentions what he or she expects. Take clear notes that you can refer to later, and ask questions when you're not sure you understand. Asking questions is a great way to communicate that you're interested and intelligent, and that you care about your work, and most employers expect and want new employees to ask questions. You can't give the employer what he or she wants unless you know what that is.

Think Like Your Boss

Remember that your boss holds a high opinion of you, or you would not have landed the job in the first place. Use that knowledge to your advantage, and proceed with confidence. If you expect the same success from yourself that your new boss does, you're sure to flourish.

Remember, you weren't hired because your employer expects you to do a bad job, or thinks you're going to call in sick every other week. Use your boss' real expectations to help you map out your course of action.

Focus on the Job

Make sure your employer sees that you're focused on the job, not the paycheck, or break time, or when you'll get your first raise. Be sure you know the answers to the following kinds of work related issues:

  1. What are my specific duties? What exactly am I responsible for?
  2. How should I perform my duties? What are the specific procedures that I should follow and how can I find ot about them?
  3. What are the deadlines or schedules I have to work with?
  4. Who else will I be working with and what are their roles?
  5. What tools or machinery or office equipment (or whatever) are required for performing the job?

You get the idea -- these questions are all about the job you're going to be doing and how to do it the way your employer wants. By paying attention to the answers, you'll get a good start in building your new relationship with your employer.

Understand the Culture

Every business develops its own "culture," which basically describes the way things are done around the office. The work culture includes things like how people are expected to dress, when and for how long people take breaks, what kinds of things people hang on their walls or put on their desks. Learning about and adapting to the culture where you work is an important part of succeeding at work and getting along with your employer and co-workers.

Whatever the specifics are at your new workplace, some things are always part of the employer's "culture." At a minimum every employee is exected to act on the following beliefs:

  • If the boss says the work day starts at 8:30 a.m., that doesn't mean that employees should arrive at 8:30 a.m. and spend their first ten minutes getting coffee, going to the bathroom, and reading the morning paper. It means "ready to work" at 8:30 a.m. When the employer tells you that you start work at 8:30 a.m., that means what is says -- not "somewhere around 8:30," or "between 8:30 and 8:45," or anything else. Get to work early and be ready to work on time!
  • If you're unable to get to work on time, call in and let someone know you'll be late. You can worry about explaining the reasons when you get to work. What the boss needs to know at that moment (and remember, you're trying to think like the boss) is that he or she is starting the day with one less employee than is needed to get the work done, and will have to rearrange things.
  • Have a back-up plan in case of a problem that may make you run late or miss work. We all know that accidents happen, and most employers understand this. However, there are ways to safeguard your life from problems that can keep you away from work. The first time you're late or absent because of a transportation problem, a child care problem, or a broken alarm clock, the employer will want to know what you'll do the next time this happens. If you come up with a back-up plan, you can save yourself and your boss a lot of headaches. For example, find out if there's a co-worker who lives near you and see if that person can act as your transportation back-up. Get their phone number and keep it at home in case you ever have car trouble. Buy an alarm clock with batteries instead of one that plugs into the wall. This way, you'll be covered if there's a power outage. Make arrangements with a neighbor, friend, or relative to cover for you if your regular child-care provider isn't available. In short, cover your bases and think ahead!
  • Concentrate on customer service. One surefire way to convince your boss that he or she hired the wrong person is to treat the customers poorly. Customers are the lifeblood of any business and the employer will always expect you to treat them with courtesy and do everything you can to make them want to return.
  • If you have any confusion about what's expected of you, or how you to do your job, ask! As mentioned above, the employer is happy to have you ask questions about the work you do. Most supervisors only start getting nervous when their new employees stop asking questions. It may be a sign that the new employee thinks he or she "knows it all." No employee ever knows "it all." Only the owner does.
  • When you start a new job, avoid complaining about your pay, benefits, working conditions, or responsibilities. The boss assumes you wanted the job, or else you wouldn't have taken it. You must have known what the pay, benefits, working conditions, and duties were when you accepted the job. Your complaining may just get other employees stirred up and create a big issue for the boss. Wait until you know the business and have proven yourself as an employee before you begin to criticize or complain.

Most of the "culture" outlined above is common sense, and is probably pretty clear to you. Figuring out what the boss wants of you is also mostly just common sense if you remember this key point:

What the boss wants from all of his or her employees is high productivity, happy customers, and no employee problems. And if that's what you give your employer, every day you work, then you will succeed.

You might think that once you've landed the job, your advertising days are over. This isn't true at all. The quality of your work, the way you present yourself, and your ability to get along with others at your current job can make or break your professional image. Make sure everything you do at work helps to create a great name for yourself in your career.

Skills Employers Commonly Look For

  • Computer Skills
  • Word processing
  • Spreadsheet application
  • Database management
  • Graphic design
  • Knowledge of common software
  • Communication Skills
  • Social Effectiveness
  • Team working skills
  • Coaching skills/coachability
  • Sales skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organization skills
  • Crisis-management skills
  • Presentation Skills
  • Writing skills (e-mails, memos, technical and other reports, and personal correspondence with co-workers)
  • Oral skills (public speaking for small and large group presentations)

Other Skills

  • Basic understanding of economics
  • Language skills and understanding other cultures
  • Personality Characteristics
  • Responsible
  • Imaginative/creative
  • Motivated/motivator
  • Quick thinker
  • Self-starter
  • Change agent
  • Self-confident
  • Risk-taker
  • Flexible/adaptable
  • Trainable/lifelong learner
  • Street-smart