How To Keep A Job In This Economy – Eliminate Bad Habits

Have you been working hard all year only to find yourself passed up for that coveted promotion? Do you feel like your boss doesn’t appreciate your contributions? Are you not getting the recognition at work that you think you deserve? If you are doing any of the following things below, you may be preventing yourself from moving up the corporate ladder.

Taking-Off Early On Fridays
If your Friday afternoon at the office consists of lunch and sending a few emails before you’re out the door, you’re sending the message that work is not a priority. While not I’m not advocating that work be your #1 priority, if you want to achieve your career goals it is important to build up your credibility around the office.

Managers want to promote motivated, happy employees who are willing to go the extra-mile when necessary. Someone who makes a habit of scheduling doctor’s appointments in the middle of the day or taking long personal lunches will never fall into this category. Work does get done on Friday afternoons, and if you’re not there, someone will notice.

Ninety-nine percent of life consists of just showing up, this includes work too.

Spending More Time At Home Than At The Office
If you think that sending out a few emails and periodically checking your inbox is enough to fool people into thinking you’re really working at home, think again. Everybody knows you’re not, because they do the same thing. It’s hard to focus when there are dishes in the sink and Oprah on TV, so if you are working from home more than once a month, you aren’t being as productive as you can be.

When you do work from home, assign yourself a specific project or goal and communicate this to your boss. This will prove to your boss that you are a responsible and thoughtful employee, and will help keep you accountable for the work you do at home.

Passing On The Company Happy Hour
Attending stuffy cocktail hours where you have to make small talk with people you barely know is not really appealing to anyone. However, skipping out on company-sponsored events means you are missing out on valuable networking time that will help you build up a group of contacts which can aid you at your current position and beyond.

Spending time with your co-workers out of the office allows you to get to know people in a new light and can be surprisingly enjoyable. I make it a point to attend all events my company sponsors. At one lunch I got to talking with a co-worker who ended up giving me his old stereo and speaker set—for free! Another time I ended up seated next to the CFO and found out her daughter and I had the same food allergy. She directed me to a great blog about living gluten-free.

Even if you don’t make tons of new friends and expand your network of business contacts, at the very least you’ll get to enjoy some free food and drink and garner personal favor with the people you work with.

Showing Too Much Initiative
As a young person just starting out, I realize that it’s hard to get people to listen to your great ideas. I have an entire folder full of scribbled-on “napkins” with ideas and diagrams on how to improve the business. It’s great that you’re paying attention and thinking big, however if you’re spending more time brainstorming new projects than working on your assigned ones, then you are doing yourself a disservice.

I spend a lot of my time working with and training new employees. I find that new employees love to share with me their grand ideas on how to revolutionize the way we do things. Believe me, if you thought of it, chances are someone else has too.

If you’re spending most of your time brainstorming, it probably means you’re neglecting your official job duties and that is not the way to win at work.

Dressing Like You Did Five Years Ago
How you are perceived by your boss and your co-workers is a lot more important than how you actually are. This may be unfair, but it’s true nonetheless. This is why it’s important to always put your best face forward in the office.

If you’re still wearing the same sweatshirt and jeans that you did in college, maybe it’s time to consider upgrading your wardrobe. Even if your workplace is laid-back, it’s still essential to project a professional image.

If you’re trying a promotion, you should learn the rules of your office and play by them. Identify one or two successful people in your office who have had a string of promotions and observe how they act in the office. Are they always prepared? Do they always go the extra-mile to please the boss? If so, you should too. Just a few simple things can mean the difference between an entry-level position and a mid-level one.

This post was originally published on January 1, 2008

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