Landing a job fresh out of college hasn’t been so easy over the last seven years, it’s true, but something not often talked about is the difficulty of imposing yourself in a new role when you do finally manage to get hired. As a young professional your youth can work against you.
Eventually, through mere persistence and simply the passing of time you’re likely to become accepted in your job by your peers and superiors. But by being active and following certain pieces of advice you can speed up this process, gain credibility and perhaps even rise up the company ladder faster.
In the corporate world, perception is reality. You want to project yourself as confident and competent. Here’s some advice you might find useful.
Dress for the part you have
Contrary to popular advice about trying to look older or dressing “for the part you want”, we think you should dress your age. While obviously keeping it within the dress code for the role you’re in, finding a look that doesn’t betray your youth is a good thing. If you are in your mid-twenties and you are trying to look like you’re in your 50s people will pick up on it intuitively – and you don’t need to give the impression there’s something false or untrustworthy about you. Although youth may equate to inexperience, it also represents energy.
Body language is key
Here is where it’s safe to copy the leaders of your company. They use body language to project confidence, leadership and other emotions to connect with and motivate others. Statistically we pay attention to less than 10% of the words people say, with the majority of messages conveyed through body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. Think about how you want to be seen as you move up. If it’s a collaborative leader, don’t sit with your arms across your chest in meetings. Use instead a relaxed posture, open arms, to convey approachability.
Do the little things/show initiative
Forget saying, “that’s not my job”. Help out where you can, and doing a favor for someone rarely makes you look bad. It marks you out as a team player and someone who others will want on their team. Of course, the caveat here is you shouldn’t let other people take advantage of your willingness to pitch in. When a favor evolves into doing someone else’s job don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. That too, when handled correctly, will help you gain great credibility.
Act the part
It may sound obvious, but your ability to actually demonstrate your capabilities through everyday actions is very important to proving you have what it takes. Deliver on promises, and try to exceed expectations. Own your mistakes and work to fix them. Read your audience. Are you communicating correctly? Always speak confidently and write professionally. Address clients as formally or informally as they expect.
Make friends wisely
We form perceptions of others based on who their friends are, right? So, whom you associate with at work is more important than you might think. So much of our professional lives and careers are about building relationships. Make sure you’re cultivating the right relationships with the right people. A wide network gives you access to a broad range of information, and likewise, associating with high-achieving, strong performers in your company reflects well on you.
A final piece of advice here is to remember to ask for regular feedback on everything you can in your job. The way we see ourselves is often different to how we’re viewed by others. Asking for feedback is a great indicator on how you’re projecting your persona in the workplace and how, or if, you need to adjust yourself.