No lie, when I started working in corporate America it was kind of like initiation into an organization that constantly tested my gangsta in so many ways. You have to have a certain temperament to be able to survive and not get eaten alive by the tenured folks who’ve been training their whole lives and are waiting for fresh meat. If you’re thinking about applying for a job in corporate America, read these tips below and prepare yourself for success.

Do:

1. Be Professional 

There’s nothing more inconsiderate than being late for work. Afterall, when an employer offers you an opportunity to be a part of their organization, the least you can do is follow the policies as it relates to time; especially in corporate America. Being on time shows [respect] to the business and your position. I know… some things are just out of your control and forces you to be late. In those cases, it’s perfectly fine to send a quick email or text to your team to let them know your ETA and ensure the same amount of productivity by staying a few minutes later or taking a shorter lunch. If there are deadlines to be met and you know that you will be coming in late, make sure that you have secured a back-up plan i.e., help from a coworker or pre-schedule tasks the day before.

Being professional also requires some organizational skills. Having the ability to organize, group, and create actionable tasks while keeping good records are amazing skills to have with anything you do in life and especially in the workplace.  

Taking ownership whether right or wrong  is also a winner in showing professionalism. We all mess up… there’s no getting around that but not all of us will admit it. That’s a key difference between a professional and a non-professional. The beautiful thing about admitting when you’re wrong is that you recognize and acknowledge areas of growth to help you and the organization in the future. We all love to take ownership when things go right, but it’s important to acknowledge when we’re wrong too.

2. Exude Confidence

Confidence is the most attractive thing a person can have. In any type of relationship be it romantic or business, it ensures others’ confidence in you. The only way to maintain that confidence is to continue to educate yourself on current trends in your profession of choice and make sure you’re constantly learning how to better do your job.

If you’re not sure how to do something, fake it – no for real though… fake it until you figure it out or you get to a point where you know for a fact that there’s no way you can figure out what to do. When you get to that point, ask questions and have no shame about it.

3. Innovate

Innovation is what most companies are looking for these days. Have the ability to think outside of the box and still be able to follow procedures. Recognize opportunities within a scope of work and be able to provide solutions.  And don’t complicate it… this doesn’t have to be some intricate plan. It could be something simple like identifying where your department might be spending too much time on certain tasks and being able to come up with more efficient ways to completion. Be optimistic; I’ve learned that when the imagination is good, the reality is good.  This is also a great way to move up quickly, the more advanced your solutions are, the better the chance is to get a more advanced position.

4. Be Likeable

Quite frankly, sometimes it doesn’t matter how educated you are or how much you’re able to produce; if nobody likes you, you won’t last long. I’ve seen it happen a lot where a person seems perfect for the job itself but their inability to build relationships affects their job performance resulting in the that person no longer being a good fit. So try your best to be a likeable person; otherwise, you’re probably on your way out.

5. Stay True to Yourself

Self-explanatory. For your own sanity, just be 100% you 100% of the time. There’s nothing more depressing than having to go to work and change who you are just to do your job. This takes so much effort and is very taxing on your mental health. If you have to change who you are to work anywhere specifically in corporate America, then it’s most likely not the right job for you. It’s also better for the company to have happy employees.

Don’t

1. Gossip

This is the quickest way to build a bad rep for yourself. You will be noticed for spreading rumors true or not instead of your actual skillset. I’ve noticed that the people who gossip the most in the workplace are usually trying to overcompensate for their lack of personality. Just avoid gossip at all cost.

2. Complain

A personal pet peeve of mine is complaining. I’ve only been working in corporate America for a little over 3 years and I can tell you that constantly complaining puts a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. This goes back to being innovative; when you feel the need to complain about something, think about possible solutions to whatever problem you’re having; if it’s within your power to fix, just fix it and move forward. If it’s not within your power, propose a solution to management. In a case where the problem can’t be resolved for whatever reason, you might want to decide whether this problem is going to hinder you from effectively doing what you’re hired to do. If yes, instead of complaining, look for other positions and move on; if no, don’t complain and continue business as usual.

3. Overstep Boundaries

In my experience, going above and beyond your job description is a good thing. It shows initiative and forward thinking, but it can be very risky when you’re not sure of the outcome of your actions. When the outcome of the risk is good, you will probably be praised but if it’s negative, oh boy… just get ready for a possible termination depending on how bad the damage is. If your particular position allows certain decision-making capabilities, it’s a bad idea to make decisions on things that aren’t within your area of expertise. This is only okay when you have consulted your counterparts and/or management depending on your position to make sure that you are acting within company guidelines and ethics.

4. Discriminate

No need to go into depth here. It’s an HR nightmare and probably the worst way to get fired; it speaks to your character in a bad way. This is in regard to race, age, nationality, sexual orientation or whatever else… just don’t. Be a good person.

5. Get Stuck

If your dreams are not to climb the corporate ladder and become a big time executive, make sure that you’re using your time outside of work to put towards your ultimate life goals. If your dream does involve you climbing the corporate ladder, don’t remain in the same position for longer than 5 years without seeing some opportunity for growth. Staying in a dead-end position will almost guarantee your misery. Working in corporate America can be very stressful already with a high-volume workload, strict deadlines and testy coworkers; it’s imperative that you don’t get stuck doing something that will make your time more stressful. This may require going back to school to get more training or starting your own side business to remain relevant, up to date and more marketable when it’s time to move up or move on.

Remember to not take anything personal, remain poised and consider your journey an opportunity to improve your personal and professional development. You will indeed learn a lot about yourself and your ability to adapt to any situation.

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