You graduated from university, feeling on top of the world, only to discover at your first day on the job, that you don’t know much at all. Everything is so different. You got your degree, but now you need to use your knowledge and put it into practice.
Your place of work is nothing like university. You’re now in an environment with people of all ages and various backgrounds. You have responsibilities, things are expected of you, there are policies to follow and so much more.
How do recent graduates not only keep their heads above water, but also learn to surf the waves of this new place in life? No one really teaches you how to “get along.” So, here is the recent graduate’s guide to workplace etiquette.
Dress the part
People typically make their judgements about a person within the first few seconds of meeting them, meaning it’s largely based on your appearance. Look presentable and in accordance with the company dress code. Once you have your own business one day (if that’s even a goal of yours), you can dress however you choose.
When you shake someone’s hand, be sure to stand up and look him/her in the eyes. And make it firm. A limp handshake can make the other person feel you’re not interested.
Always be teachable
Graduation isn’t the end of your education. It’s just the beginning. Ask lots of questions and be sure to listen first.
Don’t assume you know things, in fact, act as if you don’t know anything. Show respect for, and interest in, those with more experience than you. You’ll learn a lot more this way.
A study done by the networking site, LinkedIn, shows that most graduates will change jobs four times by the age of 32. Learning as much as you can at your current job will help you along as you further develop your career.
And diplomatic. This isn’t university where you can choose whom you surround yourself with. At work, you will spend most of your day with people who could very well be very different from you.
Respect their opinions and ways of doing things. Look for the positive in another person’s point of view and try to take away something from it. And be tactful when sharing your own.
Separate personal and professional
Sure, you’re fresh out of university, and you may not have gotten all the partying out of your system yet. Don’t use company social events and gatherings as your opportunity to let loose. Exercise restraint. You must work with these people every day, and you don’t want to ruin your reputation, which you’re just starting to establish.
Although one would hope the practice of gossiping would end after a certain age in life, this is unfortunately not always the case. Often, the office political environment can be surprisingly similar to that of social cliques in secondary school or university. Don’t add fuel to the fire, but try to remain neutral and not get involved.
If it’s something that directly involves you, talk with a superior who has the authority to address the issue. This way, you can ensure things are handled professionally and without people dragging each other’s names in the mud.
Know your company’s policies
If you’re a smoker, you want to be sure to know what your company’s policy is on smoking. Long gone are the days when people could smoke inside at work, but many companies even restrict where exactly you can smoke even outside.
If you’re a vaper, you may be in luck, because policies are typically much more lenient. Public Health England (PHE) has released a framework for businesses to use in creating their own guidelines for vaping at work. This means these policies can vary from company to company, and you want to make sure you know what those policies are where you work.
If you’re allowed to vape while at work, here are a few things to keep in mind:
*Mind your manners. Be aware that although vaping has become much more widely accepted, your fellow employees may not like the vapour in their face. Be mindful of this and don’t blow it in the direction of your co-workers.
*Educate your colleagues. Don’t attempt to be secretive and hide your vaping, because this may give your colleagues the wrong impression. Rather, be open about it, asking those around you whether they mind, and even educating them about the benefits of vaping, if they’re interested.
*Stealth vape; don’t cloud chase. Practice stealth vaping, which means releasing only a small amount of vapour rather than creating large clouds.
*Don’t judge. Don’t look down on your fellow colleagues who still smoke. Often those who used to be smokers are the most judgmental; “converts make the worst fanatics.” You don’t want to create that kind of animosity with your fellow co-workers who are smokers.
Respect other people’s time
Know that everyone at the office is busy doing their work, so respect their time. This means, don’t go barging into a superior’s or co-worker’s office or space without asking if they have time for you.
The same goes for e-mails. Be aware that people don’t typically have time to read lengthy e-mails, so be concise and get to the point right at the beginning of your e-mail. Or take the time to pick up the phone and call the person or schedule a meeting.
Arrive to work on time, that’s the obvious one, but also arrive at meetings on time. Follow along with the minutes of the meeting rather than leading the group off-topic with your ideas or questions. There is a time and place for that, either during the time allotted for Q&A or in a follow-up with an e-mail to the appropriate person.
Mind your manners
This should be a given, but unfortunately, it’s not. Hopefully, your mom taught you to say “please” and “thank you.” Always say “thank you” to anyone who helps you in any way.
Always do what you say you’re going to do. Of course, things can come up that mean you either can’t do it in the timeframe you had stated, or you are not able to do it at all. This is okay, too, as long as you communicate.
If someone expects you’re going to do something by a certain time, don’t just disappear when you realize you’re not able to meet the deadline. Just communicate with respect, manage their expectations, and surely, they will understand.
Ask for feedback
Be open to receiving feedback and constructive criticism, knowing it can help you improve. Not everyone will always just offer this up to you, so go ahead and ask for it. Be open to what others have to say and apply the feedback as you see fit.
Follow these guidelines, and you’re sure to have a more pleasant workplace experience. There will always be things beyond your control, but you can at least do your part in showing up as the best version of yourself, adding value to your place of work and helping you to create the career of your dreams.