Here’s some excellent guidance from the delightful Jeffrey Tucker for all youngsters about to start their first job. Doesn’t matter if it’s cleaning toilets or developing apps, this wisdom is universal.
If you act as prescribed below, then you’ll be highly valued by your employer and well-respected by your colleagues, and the very last person your employer will want to get rid of if they have to make cut-backs to stay afloat. Sadly, this is something an increasing number of businesses will be having to do over the next several years, so following this advice will mean you’ve done all you can to protect yourself from this.
I wish someone had given me this advice when I was young. Then again, I probably wouldn’t have taken heed. I had a foolish attitude towards ‘work’ when I was young. It took me a while to realise the error of my ways and start acting differently.
Here’s how to become highly-valued in the world of work:
1. Listen carefully to instructions and never expect to be told anything a second time.
2. Do a complete job, and do it better than your supervisor expects you to do it.
3. Work diligently to the point of discomfort, and without interruption or complaint.
4. Complete all tasks in a timely manner, meaning as soon as possible.
5. If you run out of assigned tasks, look for other jobs to do that help others and the firm.
6. Have this as your professional motto: I can add more value to this firm than I take from it.
Or, in short, when unsure ask yourself: what would Homer Simpson do? And then do the opposite. (Homer is a fantastic reverse-role model when it comes to work).
If you can actually manage to act this way at work, all the time, every time, then there’s no doubt you’ll be successful at whatever you do. And this is true for everyone, whatever their abilities, education or background.
Before you get a job you have to impress someone enough in an interview for them to take the plunge and hire you. For employers today hiring someone is a bigger risk and more costly than it would normally be (for various reasons related to government, and due to a stagnating economy) and so you’ll need to work even harder to convince someone you’re going to add value to their operation.
Follow this advice and you’ll stand out amongst the sea of people just as qualified, experienced and educated as you. At the very least it should make it pretty hard for someone to say no to you. The following is based on a short but useful podcast I heard a while back by philosopher Stefan Molyneux (who was previously a successful entrepreneur), which I have recounted in my own words and developed further. I put this advice into practice myself and as a result I had much more positive and rewarding interview experiences, even in those where I wasn’t hired.
1. Be humble about your strengths and honest about your weaknesses. Don’t lie.
Knowing and being able to articulate your strengths is essential, but bear in mind that your interviewer may be threatened or put-off by you if they perceive you as over-confident or arrogant. No one likes a know-it-all.
Also essential is knowing your weaknesses and having the humility to dicuss them openly. Confidence is attractive, but Self-awareness and humility are likeable and valuable qualities too. If you can talk about what you’re not-so-good-at without embarrassment or shame or obstructive pride, then your potential employer will likely draw the conclusion that you’ll heed advice, accept criticism and therefore be willing to learn in order to improve yourself should they hire you. These are highly desireable traits in employees. No employee is perfect, but that doesn’t matter as long as they’re willing to change. Having someone who can’t see or won’t admit when they’re wrong, or refuses to change is a nightmare for any employer and highly counter-productive. People like this rarely get hired or if they do they don’t last long.
Don’t lie because you’ll get found out eventually. This will be humiliating for you and really annoying for your employer.
2. Find out how this business adds value to the product or service they provide.
Ask questions to establish exactly why this company’s customers come to them instead of anyone else offering the same product or service. By doing this you’ll demonstrate your understanding that the ultimate aim of everything the company does, the very purpose of its existence, is to give their customers what they want. An employee that has this in the back of his mind as he goes about his work will be a highly effective one.
3. Interview the person interviewing you.
Ask them what they like and don’t like about working here. Ask them what sort of personality they think would fit well into the team. These are important questions because it’s not just the employer that needs to be happy and comfortable, you need to be happy and comfortable too. You might need to or be willing to take any job because you need the money, but working with someone who is a real shit-bag or you have a personality clash with might not be worth the cost to your mental health. By asking about the team and what sort of person they think would work well here you might just save yourself from walking into one big stressful mess.