How to Stand Out at Your Entry-Level Job

Posted February 10, 2014 by
Happy student/young woman giving a thumbs up on getting first business job

Happy student/young woman giving a thumbs up on getting first business job. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

As new college graduates find out very quickly, many entry-level jobs are not designed to help you stand out. Instead, your role is to fade into the background; to pour coffee, assist a higher-up, or otherwise serve in the day-to-day administrata of office work.

However, even if your job involves a lot of envelope-stuffing and printer management, there are still ways to stand out and start your journey to career success.

Show up on time, every time

It’s often hard for new college grads to make the transition to an office schedule. However, don’t let an 8:30 start time get in the way of your career success. Make sure you walk into the office on time, every single day — and try arriving a little early if possible, to settle in and grab that cup of coffee before the workday begins.

Arriving at 8:45 instead of 8:30 may not make much difference to your overall productivity, but believe us: people notice. Making the effort to be the new hire who is always on time will show your team and your supervisors that you are fully committed to your new job.

One good way to make sure you always beat the clock: get enough sleep. Young adults still need 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep every night, meaning that if you need to be up by 6 a.m., you need to be in bed around 10 p.m. Yes, you will have to say no to a few social requests, but consider that a small price to pay to start your new career and new phase of life.

Understand when to ask for more work, and when to wait for new assignments

As you become familiar with your new job, you are likely to start completing tasks more quickly, resulting in daily downtime. Many eager beavers immediately go to their supervisors to ask for more work. This tactic, however, can backfire.

Yes, if you are regularly experiencing more than two hours of downtime per day, you need to set up a meeting with your supervisor to talk about additional responsibilities. But the key here is to set up a meeting, not stop your supervisor in the hallway and ask for more work. Remember: your boss has a job to do as well, and finding tasks to delegate to you takes time and energy that he or she may not always have.

Likewise, if you are the entry-level employee who is always asking for new work and more complex tasks, you’re going to be viewed as high-maintenance. Part of standing out in an office is knowing the right time to ask for things, and the right time to wait patiently for good things to come to you.

Look for ways to save your employers money

Offices are all about the bottom line, and there are ways to contribute to that bottom line even as an entry-level employee. If part of your job duties include printer and copier management, for example, ask your supervisor if you can keep an eye out for discounts on your office’s everyday paper and printer supplies. If your office uses Brother supplies, see if you can find Brother toner cartridges for less than what your office manager is currently paying.

Another good way to save your company money is by offering to share your specialized skills. Did you make it through college using free, open-source software Gimp instead of the more expensive Photoshop? See if your supervisor will let you teach a few Gimp training courses so that your office does not have to spend money on graphic-editing software.

These three suggestions are examples of ways to stand out as an entry-level employee:

  1. Be reliable
  2. Understand office politics and procedures
  3. Improve the bottom line

Master these methods, and you’ll have a good chance of climbing up the career ladder!

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