Here are six tips to help you win at the business world’s game:
- Develop a marketable corporate persona: Think of yourself as a publicist with the task of promoting you. Learn to capitalize on your skills, succinctly assert your achievements, and project a corporate persona — or your most mature, professional, and competent face.
- Establish profitable relationships: Business networking is a valuable tool to gain information, increase your visibility in your field and make connections that will help you move forward in your career. Seek out new contacts and potential mentors whom you like and admire and whose interests you share. On the home front, don’t expect your boss to figure out what you’re all about. Determine her priorities, find out what she wants from you, and brainstorm ways to surpass her expectations.
- Master transferable skills such as goal setting, effective communication, and time management: You might not know exactly what you want to do with your life, but transferable skills will serve you well no matter what future path you decide to pursue. Make your time count now by working with your boss to set specific, reasonable, and attainable goals for your present position that will help you advance to the next level.
- Stay motivated despite trying circumstances: There’s no doubt that the business world can be frustrating, but remember that you can choose your response to your environment. If you make a conscious decision to begin each day with a positive outlook, negative conditions at work can’t take that away from you. Aim to increase your self-awareness so you can better understand your emotional hot buttons.
- Get people to cooperate: Always keep in mind that other people don’t care what you want — they want to know what’s in it for them. By approaching negotiations with an attitude that allows both parties to win, you’ll be more effective at eliciting cooperation and ultimately getting what you want.
- Be proactive about your career growth: Approach your performance review strategically by soliciting feedback on your progress, identifying new goals and growth opportunities and hammering out a long-term promotion plan. When asking your boss for a raise, be prepared with a list of contributions that have positively impacted the bottom line.
When you’re struggling to survive in a corporate job, it might be an achievement just to make it through the day. But if at any point you feel like taking these steps is not worth the effort, just consider how much time you are likely to spend in the business world. Assuming you work from age 22 to age 65 for 235 days a year, you’ll be on someone else’s clock for about 80,000 hours, or one tenth of your life. Isn’t it only fair that you do everything you can to create a rewarding job experience?
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. Twenty-eight-year-old Alexandra Levit worked for a Fortune 500 software company and an international public-relations firm before starting Inspiration @Work, a marketing communications consulting business. Levit is the author of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something’s Guide to the Business World (Career Press 2004) and writes and speaks frequently about the workplace issues facing young employees. She has recently appeared on National Public Radio and in media outlets including the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, Yahoo! Hot Jobs, and Money Magazine. Levit graduated from Northwestern University in 1998 and resides with her husband in Chicago. Learn more by going to the book’s Website: They Don’t Teach Corporate in College or to AlexandraLevit.com.