Although the tales of overqualified and underpaid college graduates accepting nearly any job they can find are accurate to some extent, other talented members of the class of 2013 have already secured full-time employment. If you fall into that second category, following basic workplace etiquette is just as important as learning your new job and doing it correctly.
If you got the job you’ve been dreaming off, don’t become the office joke or—worse yet—get fired for your inappropriate behavior. The following 10 tips should be common sense, but unfortunately some employees need a little reminding every now and then.
1. Work your scheduled hours. Give yourself plenty of time to wake up each morning and get to work on time, and resist the urge to sneak out the door five minutes early. It doesn’t matter if you notice other people showing up late and leaving early. Do the right thing, especially since you’re the new kid on the block. Your professors may not have cared if you had those habits during school, but your bosses will.
2. Dress professionally. A suit and tie may be overkill, but make an effort to dress nicely. Torn jeans are not appropriate for the workplace, even on casual Fridays. Too-short skirts, flip flops, sky-high heels…save em for the weekends.
3. Knock before entering. Don’t barge into the CEO’s office when the door is closed. Don’t walk up to a colleague’s cubicle and start firing questions at them without asking if they have a few minutes to spare. Everyone else is just as busy as you are.
4. Pay attention to your personal hygiene. Visiting the company gym on your lunch break is a great perk and a great way to relieve some stress, but do your co-workers a favor and take a shower before you head back to your desk. Wear deodorant but don’t douse yourself in cologne or perfume. Attempting to mask body odor with cosmetic fragrances generally backfires and you could wind up making people sneeze all afternoon.
5. Groom yourself in the bathroom. Speaking of deodorant, don’t apply it at your desk. Don’t give yourself a manicure, bite your nails, or floss your teeth in your cubicle, either.
6. Watch what you eat. Bringing your own lunch from home can help you cut costs, but pay attention to the type of meals that you pack. People may not think that your fish or other “aromatic” foods smell as delicious as you think they do. If go out for food and bring it back to eat at your desk, don’t dispose of the wrappers or containers in the trash can under your desk. Not only will it stink, it can attract bugs or other pests.
7. Speak clearly and cleanly. If you have a dirty mouth, keep it clean while you’re at work. Even if you hear others drop the F-bomb around the office, don’t sink to their level. Watch your volume, too. Speak loudly enough that people can hear you, but don’t shout in person or while you’re on the phone or you’ll drive people crazy!
8. Quiet, please! You might have annoying habits that you aren’t even aware of. Do you drum your fingers or tap your pen on the desk while you’re thinking? Do you anxiously tap your foot every time you get put on hold? If you catch yourself, quiet down. If someone points these things out to you, don’t take offense—just try to be quieter.
9. Wear headphones. It’s off-limits in some offices, but if you’re allowed to listen to music at work do it through headphones. Musical tastes vary immensely and your cube neighbor may not think Justin Bieber is as talented as you think he is.
10. Keep your personal life personal. It’s okay to make small talk with your colleagues while you’re getting to know them, but some things just aren’t meant to be shared. Letting people know where you went to college is acceptable; describing your habit of passing out at keg parties is not. If you decide that you’re comfortable with friending your coworkers on Facebook, don’t post drunken bikini photos and never, ever complain about work!
These 10 office mistakes may sound like no-brainers, but they happen far too often. Pay attention to your habits at work and you should be fine!
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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