If I were a… Office Worker

Hopefully, you’ll excuse the grammatical error in the title here. The series is called “If I were a…” not “If I were an…” and I didn’t want to break the habit! Anyway, moving on to the article…

Many of us have worked in an office at some point in out lives; a lot of us currently do. Even though this can be seen a quite a ‘vanilla’ atmosphere, there is possibly the biggest potential for career progression as a result of this.

At 16 I left school, and after working at Sainsburys for around 2 years in my first job, I moved to work for RBS in their call centre, earning a very respectable £8.67 – a pretty good part-time for someone of my age (18) at that time.

In that time I started to learn the first lessons about career progression. It’s true to say that I left this job role before most of the ideas I formed would’ve started to take effect but here are my thoughts none-the-less.

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Tip #1: Be punctual.

Turning up on time really isn’t hard. If you have to set your alarm clock earlier, go to bed earlier, whatever you have to, to turn up on time. Not just to work at the start of the day either – meetings, phone calls, everything counts. Every time you slip on your punctuality someone loses a tiny bit of respect for you. Work is not a ‘treat em mean, keep em keen’ game. It’s also not the case of being a kiss ass. It’s simply that being on time shows respect for your counterparts, shows that you want to be there and that you want to make progress. In contrast to being late, every time you turn up on time or just a tiny bit early, someone will add ‘points’ to their respect levels for you.

Eventually you’ll become the person that’s ‘always on time’. Not a bad accolade to have, and a nice testimonial for the CV, or the mention to the boss who might have the ability to promote you.

 

Tip #2: Ask about progressing.

This is possibly the biggest thing that baffles me about people in 9-5 office roles – they don’t tend to ask about progression. People will go to work day after day, week after week, month after month, not asking what they can do to progress but simply hoping what they’re doing will be noticed as an eagerness to move up in their workplace.

Your boss isn’t a mind reader.

Whilst it is likely their job to have a handle on everything the team does/is doing, they may just think you’re fantastic in your job, partially because you enjoy it so much, and don’t want to risk moving you elsewhere. Would you take the best street cleaner, able to keep the streets the cleanest you’ve ever seen, and make him Mayor? Possibly not.

There’s nothing stopping you from questioning, regularly, what you can do to progress. The bigger the organisation, the better in this case. With a number of peers around you, if you’re the only one asking, you’ll be almost guaranteed a consideration when a position comes available.

 

Tip #3: Add some extra curricular activity.

Going the extra mile doesn’t have to be boring. Do something rewarding. Do something you love. Are you artistic, but the office is looking a little bland? Try to arrange some volunteer work for the team with a local school to make some artwork for the office perhaps?

Arrange a bake sale, a regular cake day, movie time with your team to boost morale – things like this will make you a more valued team member. Let’s face it, if you arrange a cake day every week, you’d pretty much be the hero of the office.

It doesn’t have to all be ‘fun stuff’ though. Business development outside of work can be a great way to show initiative and that you really care about progressing in your career. When I worked for the bank, I started to make moves into developing a school education programme on banking (noting the lack of education on the subject in the UK curriculum). This caught the eye of my manager that then opened up chats about progression through work training and eventual promotion possibilities.

 

Tip #4: Become invaluable.

A business that cannot run without you, is one that has huge potential to bow to your every whim. If you become the best baker in the bakery, the most knowledgable of law at your solicitor firm, a regular Archimedes at your accounting office, then they’re going to love you and give you more opportunity.

Again this isn’t about sucking up; it’s about furthering yourself. Becoming the person that people rely upon can feel slightly pressured, or powerful, depending on your personality. Take it simply as a compliment though, and use it as leverage when you start to negotiate your promotion terms.

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Tip #5: Always be looking for the next opportunity.

Job hopping has such a bad reputation. People are often worried about moving too quickly – a CV with 10 jobs in the last 2 years might look a little suspicious. However, whilst you should mindful of quality over quantity, you should consider your happiness and your potential.

Are you really happy sat behind the reception desk at a car show room, when you actually want to be road testing Ferraris? Then always keep an eye out for opportunities, and when they arise, go and take them.

A friend of mine, moved rather quickly through his job roles, in comparison to the average of my contacts. He hasn’t found himself unemployable because of this, he’s found himself on the other side of the world, managing a team of people like him, at the age of 25.

You get my point – stay open minded and know that you can be the person to fill the role you’ve been looking at on that job website for the past week.

 

Tip #6: Use tools.

It always shocks me, how many of my friends don’t know what LinkedIn is. Tools like this help you keep on top of your career opportunities and the things going on around you. Being on Facebook half the day making pointless input on pointless topics is fun n’all, but where’s it getting you?

Add a little LinkedIn to the mix, some job website searches, reading of current business news and you’ll start to form not only ideas, but a plan, a technique, a confidence, a knowledge that will help you be the person who happened to be ‘in the right place, at the right time’.

Whilst you’re at it, get yourself signed up to the YENA website. It’s specifically for under 30s of course, but if you are, it’s a great way to connect with people like you, see what collaborative projects might be around to help your extra curricular activity, and spot job roles/business projects that might just make you the success you’re hoping to be.

 

Well, that’s it. Those are my tips for office workers. Let me know if you start to use them, and let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear of a promotion or ‘rung jump’ as a result of these points.

 

The “If I were a…” blog series is intended to be opinions from an outsiders view only. They may not apply to you, but you’re all more than smart enough to figure out which you should use I’m sure! 🙂