Nowadays any office setting job revolves around you sitting in front of a computer screen and getting things done from there and occasionally picking up the phone or jumping into video conference meetings. Though, don’t let these impersonal interactions set you two steps backwards in your professional development. You can do more!

Take action in some easy steps to really help you get ahead in your career because the workplace is constantly changing and you need to change with the times, be innovative to stand out and simply stay ahead of the game.

I know everyone lives such busy lifestyles that participating in a developmental seminar isn’t even a question right now. I get it, but I have put together some easy steps that will help your career today. I’ve come up with these suggestions after working in non-profit for three years and in corporate for a year. Hope they are useful to you as I am sure they would have been to me if I ever stumbled across them years ago.

Be Confident: You may feel intimated at the beginning of a career change, promotion or taking on a new project because you don’t know the office lingo, some projects will be a lot of work, everything is new to you and simply there are things that you are not used to. But, guess what you get to be confident in your performance, roll up your sleeves, get to work and NEVER show you’re intimidated.

Remember that others in the company or even in your department started at the same place you’re in years ago and look at how far they’ve made it. Over the years they’ve learned to master the art or act as if they know everything. There’s a perfect saying that goes here: “Fake it until you make it.” I am not supporting fakeness, but do the extra work and learn your responsibilities so that you become a master.

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Don’t Hide: It’s true that some people are programmed to sit and stay stuck like glue 95% of their work day to their desk chair, but don’t fall into that trap. If time and resources permits get-up meet people in other departments and introduce yourself to others and especially executive level personnel. I don’t need to add why. It’s very important that you talk business with others, but once there’s a level of trust talk to them about personal matters and show that you care.

Work Ethic: One thing I learned from my immigrant father to this country was to be a hard worker and exemplify work ethic. People will remember you for doing the right thing instead of cutting slack. Go the extra mile that very few people seem to do because you’ll stand out. Show your high level of responsibility at all times so that you can always keep the company functioning at its peak.

Don’t feel Intimated: Oh, I said that already, but I figured I remind you again because a lot of your performance relies on you feeling capable of doing the job or not.

Value your Contributions: Among a pool of applicants for the job or new project you were the chosen one so don’t underestimate your creativity and speak up. Suggest a solution to a problem. Present a new idea. Prepare to be shot down, but go ahead and try. People will admire your initiative. Just like there’s no dumb question there’ no dumb idea and especially after it is fleshed out and developed.

Ask Questions: Don’t be shy, start asking away and especially when you are new to the job. People value you more when asking questions rather than committing the same mistakes. Save others time, energy and money by asking questions and making sure that you understand your role.

Find Mentors: Seek people that will help you move forward in and out of the company, have allies and people that will speak up about your qualifications and personality.

Research: Often times we have a “to do” list of items that needs to get done during a week, month or quarter and sometimes there’s some down time in the day that could be used wisely. During that extra time do research on things that you need more clarification on and go above and beyond. Your manager/supervisor will notice your extra effort instantly.

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Don’t get offended: Don’t take things personal in the workspace. Sometimes you need to learn how to build a thick skin with certain people and understand that not everyone will be your best friend at work.

Don’t slack off: If you’ve got deadlines to meet it’s important that you prioritize your time. There’s a team of people that are depending on you and your work and there’s nothing more annoying than waiting for someone to complete their job after they’ve had days, weeks or even months to do the work.

Punctuality: Don’t get too confident after being on the job for months or years and think that you can start arriving 10-15 minutes late. It doesn’t work that way. Arrive to work before your manager or supervisor even if it is 30 seconds before. Life happens and sometimes you may be late to work, but always communicate to your supervisor.

Take a class: You can never stop learning and there’s never enough information on new things for you to know. Expand your horizons and learn a new trick, lesson or skill that demonstrates that you can keep up with the rest of the team.

Exercise and eat right: When you are healthy you consequently have a more positive outlook on life therefore your performance on the job is at its prime. There’s nothing more important than being and looking healthy.

Don’t expect: Stop expecting others to manage your career. If you just sit there, working hard and smiling at all the right people, you’re probably wondering why you didn’t get picked for that special project, or why you didn’t get the promotion you think you’ve earned. You have to speak up and let people know how you want your career to go.

Smile: Be approachable. I cannot say this enough because nowadays everyone seems to go about their own business and do not know the first name of the people on their floor although they see each other every day. That is sad! We’re not robots, we’re human beings. A smile doesn’t cost a thing so give it away to others and I guarantee you others will remember you and the positive aura you project.

Take a vacation: You know how you go on a vacation and when you return you are all full of energy and creativity? Well, that’s necessary and you need to get the heck out of the office. You need some time off to be your best. Remember, it’s just as much a part of your compensation package as your salary is.

The above suggestions are recommended by the experience that I’ve had and from talking to peers in a variety of different industries.

Remember that chances are that many times you are going to be unclear about something so remember to ask questions so that you don’t do dumb mistakes that will make you feel worse later.

Good luck to you on your next job, new project or simply start exceling on the opportunity you currently have. And if you feel you are hitting a plateau put some of my easy to follow steps to use.

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