Experience teaches many things including how to make the most of a first “real” job. As parents, relatives, and mentors, we want to impart wisdom — without sounding like Methuselah — and help our millennials succeed.Here are a few tips to help get the conversations started. Use the list creatively. You may want to text one tip a day to your millennial, create a laminated card-size version of the first words of each tip, or post the entire list somewhere visible.
- Work hard at even the most trivial tasks. There is no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and doing even the most mundane work with enthusiasm and focus. Were you told to dial 100 prospects, feed a database or even run errands during off hours? Do it all, cheerfully. Hang on to your visions of the corner office, company car, and “big bucks” while knowing that everyone’s done the small stuff, too. You might be surprised to know that those with the most success still pitch in when needed.
- Study your employer as the most interesting college subject on earth. You certainly did your homework for the recruiting and interviewing process and that got you hired. You can cite company history, name the leadership team, and repeat the company mission statement with ease. Now get ready to dig deeper and understand what your employer does and why. Build a mental map of your company and its place in the industry. The knowledge you accumulate by researching current industry and company trends, taking notes in meetings, and asking the right questions will give you confidence, increase your competency, and demonstrate your interest in your company and its future.
- Get to know people outside of your department. Lots of people do lots of interesting things at work. Take the time to learn more about others personally and how they contribute to your company’s success. Display interest by participating in company meetings and events. Go to lunch or coffee with someone you don’t know well. Ask engaging questions and be prepared to share your own experiences and ideas. You are building knowledge, creating a network of resources, and, if you are lucky, you will find friendships that will last throughout your career.
- Silence the distractions. Nothing should ring, buzz, vibrate, or flash during a meeting unless created by the presenter or group leader. Make silencing your devices part of your pre-meeting routine. You know to prepare for meetings by reviewing agendas and notes and understanding the purpose and your role in the session. While you’re gathering that information, take a few more seconds to rest your electronics. Others will view you as attentive, focused, and professional when it is not your cell phone that disrupts the CEO’s presentation.
- Talk the talk of your business. Learn general business processes and use the correct business and industry terminology to describe how your business makes money. You need to understand how and why revenue is generated. You will have a greater appreciation for the roles within your company and how the company acts and reacts financially as an entity. It will take time to match your business acumen and vocabulary to your CEO’s, but it is worth the effort. The more you demonstrate your understanding, the more your bosses will take notice.
- Raise your hand for more work. When your workload slows, let your boss know you’re ready for new assignments and in time, more responsibilities. Asking for more will build your reputation as a proactive, hard worker who gets things done. You will become the go-to person for more interesting assignments. Waiting for someone to hand you the next task or job has the opposite effect and can, over time, seriously damage your career path.
These nuggets of wisdom may seem second nature to those of us who have been in the workforce for a while. And in some ways, they remain timeless tips for success. But to those just beginning their careers, what we take for granted is new knowledge.
At Dise & Company, our work recruiting successful executives for manufacturers, hospitals, educational institutions, nonprofits, and professional services has shown that early career success reaps benefits years – and even decades – later.