They say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That line of thinking only applies, however, as far back as the last time that you turned the page on a new chapter in the annals of your professional career, formal education, dating life, or whatever it is. Life is full of fresh starts, after all, particularly when it comes to the workplace: The most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average length of service at any job is 4.4 years.
That means the odds are good that your professional career, whether you entered the workforce five years ago or 15, will include a least a handful of new beginnings. In other words, whether or not you think you're too old, or too set in your ways, to reinvent yourself, there are almost certainly going to be opportunities in your professional future to show the working world a whole new you. Career advice is evergreen, even if you haven't updated your resume since before the first Obama presidency.
Recently we put our eyes on a post to the IT Career News blog — managed by IT industry association CompTIA — that touts tips for "Your First Year in IT." Guess what? If you end up working at new IT job in the near future, then it's practically the same thing as your first year in IT. You new employer may have sensed greatness in you, or they may just have been hoping to put a warm body with a valuable skill set in a position of intense demand. Either way, the slate is clean.
Blogger Michelle Lange, taking her cues from consultant Logan Murphy, has some solid basic advice like "Become familiar with your surroundings" and "Take an interest in your new co-workers." What caught our eye, however, was Murphy's "3 Secrets to Success." They're actually pretty run-of-the-mill ideas, but sometimes the success to be found is in the execution, and not the originality, of the ideas. Murphy advises the following:
- Dress better than everyone around you.
- Show up on time.
- When you're at work, do work.
No surprises, right? You may think that dressing for success is easy, until you look around at all of the jeans, sneakers and untucked shirts. Every workplace has a dress code, whether written or unwritten, and ending up not on the wrong side of it is as simple as paying attention and being willing to upgrade your wardrobe.
Punctuality may seem old fashioned, and many workplaces have a sliding scale. Whatever the arrival time is for your particular position, make a habit of being five minutes early. That way, even if you're running a few minutes, you still have a pretty good chance of showing up on time.
Finally, the IT professionals of 2017 are living in an age of short attention spans and innumerable distractions. It can be difficult to concentrate on the task (or tasks) at hand. In an age when most people feel that they're expected to stay at work until assigned duties are completed — whether or not that takes them precisely eight hours — you can wind up comfortably ahead of the curve by staying on task.
Remember, habits can form quickly. Make the right decisions from the start, and your next first chance will result in a lasting and positive impression.