By Fran Newark
Whether you are entering the workforce for the first time or changing fields, you will no doubt have the distinct privilege of enduring the entry level position (aka “paying your dues”). Don’t worry! You are not alone. Everyone with years or decades of experience started in their field somewhere. The key to getting beyond the tedium of your first job is to stand out to your peers and superiors. This is the very first impression you have in your trade, and as Peter Pan claims “first impressions are awfully important.” Here are five proven ways to make a strong impression in your entry level job.
1) Work Hard
This may go without saying, but nothing can replace hard work in your career. Take your responsibilities seriously and be consistent in your deliverables. Arrive on time, do your research and reply quickly to emails. If you are reliable and get things done, you will be noticed.
2) Speak your mind
Many entry level employees, no matter how qualified, believe they need to do as they are told and sit silently in meetings. However, these kinds of employees have no use in today’s business world and merely take up space. If you want to make a significant impression upon your those around you, you must be heard. You cannot be heard unless you make some noise! Respectfully give your input in meetings and thoughtfully provide your team with quality figures and metrics. When appraisal time comes around, your manager will not forget these important contributions.
3) Manage Up
While your manager may act like they want you to blindly do as they say without question, sometimes that is not what is best for them or for you. If they have given you a directive and you have an opinion on improving the process, make your idea heard. Good managers listen and selectively implement the ideas of their employees. If you consistently have good ideas, your insight will become valued and respected. This leads to more responsibility and promotions!
4) Bring Your Perspective to the Table With Confidence
You may be entry level, but that does not mean your perspective is completely worthless. Shocking, I know! Draw on your previous experiences to provide knowledgable perspectives to your discussions. A variety of experience levels adds to workplace diversity and sometimes the best ideas come from time spent outside of the industry. Serving at a restaurant gives you a unique perspective on customer service issues. Working summers as a camp counselor may give you a significant voice in leading projects or planning events. You may not have experience in your current industry, but you do have years of unique life experiences you can use to your advantage.
5) Don’t Apologize
Nothing shows a lack of confidence in your own opinion like a disclaimer. While you may want to carefully chose your words when presenting an opposing view to superiors, you should never apologize for your opinion. Your manager does not need someone who simply gives their input when it is agreeable. If you find yourself beginning sentences with “I may be wrong, but…” or “This is just my opinion, but…”, you may want to rethink the way you give input. You don’t have experience, but you do have valuable insights. If these insights are worth verbalizing then there is no apology necessary. On the flip side, if an apology is necessary perhaps the idea should not be verbalized.
First impressions are awfully important, and while this job may feel trivial or inconsequential it is crucially important to your career. Spending this time working hard, providing valuable insights to your team and being recognized for your conviction and unique perspective will surely open many doors and windows for you along the way. It takes time to move beyond your “no experience required” job, but if you use this time well it could launch you into a meaningful and rewarding career.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn