“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” ~ Oprah
Our twenties are the perfect time to learn how to kill it at work. We can spend time and mental energy to be our absolute best people, both at work and in the rest of our lives.
Here are some things that I have learned to be an exceptional employee:
1. Don’t be afraid to work hard.
If you want to be great at your job, you have to work hard. There really isn’t a way around it.
Hard work may look a little different based on what your career path is, but you will need to work hard if you want success in your life.
2. Dress the part.
I have gotten this advice from mentors and books: Dress the part.
We have all heard the saying “dress of the job you want, not the job you have.” And there is absolutely truth to this.
Dressing up and professionally will help you to be taken seriously in the workplace. It really is important.
Also think about everything else besides your clothes. Consider your shoes, makeup, and jewelry choices. A good test is to look at the executives at your company (especially the women). Are they wearing suits every day? Are they wearing a lot of jewelry and big heels? Again, this will look different based on your job, so use your own company and co-workers as your benchmark.
This may require you to invest in some additions to your wardrobe, but it will be worth it.
3. Find a mentor.
Find someone you trust to be honest with you. It is even better if you have a mentor that works at your company.
You want someone who can challenge you, push you, and let you know when you have made a mistake.
Pro-tip: Having someone higher up who will advocate for you will help you to advance in your company.
4. Always go the extra mile.
This is similar to working hard, but embrace going the extra mile.
That may mean coming in to work a few minutes before your co-workers, or making a few extra calls before you leave.
This kind of work ethic will make you a better employee, but it may also help you to stand out to your supervisors.
5. Listen twice as much as you talk.
As twenty-something, wee are all early in our careers, and while we have a lot to contribute, we also have a lot to learn.
So listen to other people at your company. Ask questions. This can also help you to be taken seriously from your older peers.
Millennials get a bad rap – there is a stereotype that we come in wanting to change everything and then want a promotion long before we are ready.
Older generations who have heard these things, or had a negative interaction with a millennial may put you in that category. You can negate that some by working with them, listening to them, and seeking advice or feedback from them.
6. Learn as much as you can.
Never stop learning. I have read in a few places that “leaders are learners.”
Read books, listen to podcasts, have informational interviews with people in your company or people you admire. Learn all the time. I love learning and knowing things, and I know it makes me a better employee, and a better person.
Learn what you can about your career. What skills are necessary to be good at your job? What skills will help you to advance? Learn what they are, and focus on how to get better at them.
Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself, your dreams, and your future.
Create the life you want. And don’t apologize for having big goals and big dreams.
You deserve to have the life you want. Figure out what that is and work to have it.
Here are a few of my favorite career books, podcasts, and quotes:
- Basic Black by Cathy Black. Do yourself a favor and buy this book. Like today. It is amazing and will change the way you think about work and life.
- I Shouldn’t be Telling You This by Kate White. This book will give you practical advice on how to get ahead at work.
I am a bit obsessed with podcasts. They are a great way to learn and be inspired. Here are a few of my favorites
- #girlboss Radio with Sophia Amoruso. I love Sophia Amoruso, Founder of Nasty Gal and author of #GirlBoss. On her podcast, she interviews an awesome woman every week and talks about her start and how she got to where she is. I am always inspired by these stories.
- Mentoring Moments with Denise Restauri. This is a Forbes podcast. Similar to #girlboss radio, women are interviewed and they share things they think women need to know.
- Stuff Mom Never Told You with Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin. This podcast talks about a lot of different topics, but they do a lot of research before each podcast which I really appreciate.
Here are a few quotes to inspire you to kill it at work:
- “I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.” ~ Estee Lauder
- “A #girlboss is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it.” ~ Sophia Amoruso
- “Be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ~ Nora Ephron
- “When you realize it’s your responsibility to be a leader and create the world that you want to see, you have to do it.” ~ Janelle Monae
- “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou