Recently some colleagues and I were discussing disastrous experiences we've had with hiring.  Instead of lamenting the problem we sought solutions. We all want to do big things on small budgets.  

We discussed interview questions that work. Techniques to vet out the most qualified candidates. As well as post-mortem systems to ensure that we don't make the same hiring mistake twice. 

My friend Cliff Moskowitz, President of InterLuxe Holdings, shared a story passed on to him via his brother who's an attorney: Years ago, a law firm had a master list of important things that helped to make an exceptional first year associate. 

Cliff said "they shared these small, incredibly detailed lessons to help associates get off to a great start at the firm." Adding that "most tips were the little things that you don't learn at school and most people overlook or take for granted." Concluding that "these little things and extra effort gems help you appreciate the details and will make you more valuable at your company."

Based on that legendary master list from Cliff, and a few more sprinkles of my own wisdom, here are 7 powerful little things that will make you stand out at your new gig. 

1. Make your bed. 

During his 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas, Admiral William McRaven talked about why it's so important to make your bed every morning. 

Admiral McRaven thinks it's a great way to start the day because it represents the accomplishment of the first task of the day, and it will make you feel good and will lead you to accomplishing other tasks.  

2. Read, read, read and read some more. 

Read every newspaper, magazine and industry publication related to your career and your industry. Be the best-read, most well-informed employee in your company. In addition to helping you learn the industry and be on top of current trends, reading a lot also gives you the opportunity to share a lot. 

Sharing interesting news articles is a great way to keep in touch with prospective clients, suppliers, and colleagues. It gives you an excuse to initiate contact and start a conversation, and conversations lead to opportunities.

It also shows your boss and your team that you care a lot about what's happening in your industry and you're excited about learning.

One of the easiest ways to cover industry news is to set up Google alerts, which enables you to have custom content delivered to your inbox daily.

3. Dress the part. 

Everyone will remember when you are inappropriately under-dressed, but there is almost no such thing as being inappropriately over-dressed.

You represent the company during business hours, so best to keep personal fashion choices for personal time. Dressing well doesn't require spending a lot of money.

Find a uniform or style that you can repeat over and over again and bring everything you buy to a tailor. A perfect-fitting garment will always look great, even if you didn't break the bank to buy it.

Dress for the job that you want to have, not the one that you currently have, and that will help everyone else see you in that role.

4. Put away your mobile device.

Whoever you're meeting with or speaking to deserves your complete and undivided attention. Always turn your ringer off and never take your phone out at meetings under any circumstances. If you feel compelled to use your mobile device for note taking, state that to the room, and share your notes with the group.

Young employees develop reputations for checking their phones or instant messaging with their friends. Sometimes those reputations aren't deserved, but they stick with you, and they're never positive. 

5. Be prepared for every situation. And always have gum. Yes, seriously.

Traveling with your boss? Carry a pack of gum, the addresses and phone numbers for everywhere you're visiting, a back-up cell-phone charger, an extra pen, and any other essentials you can think of that fit in your bag. 

A business trip is a chance to spend quality time with your colleagues and to impress them with your preparedness and attention to detail. Inside the office, keeping gum or other treats and useful supplies at your desk is an inexpensive way to encourage your colleagues to stop by, which gives you a chance to develop relationships.

6. Be appreciative.

Whatever your first job is, chances are there were a lot of other people that wanted it. 

You may be brilliant, charismatic and an extremely hard-worker, but there were a lot of other people who would have loved the opportunity that you just got. 

Remember, if you decide to leave your job, your colleagues may be briefly disappointed, but there will always be a line of people out the door and around the corner who would love to take your place. 

Stay humble, work hard, and always remember the people that would love to be in your shoes

7. Focus on the details, never complain and produce, produce produce. 

Lose the passion and focus on purpose, and direction. Stay late, and never complain...to anyone. Not even your new pal in the cube next to you. His Aunt may be the CEO.

Really need to complain to someone? Save it for Mom and Dad when you're home. That's it. 

If you're out of the office, set an auto alert on your email, and change your voicemail. Set a calendar reminder for yourself to change your email auto responder and voicemail back when you've returned. 

When you've completed one task, ask for more. Focus on function not form. Become a function junkie.  

Bringing it all together:

Keep your head down and serve your boss. In fact, serve everyone. Provide support to everyone around you so that they can be better. If you think about how you can help everyone you meet, you'll become indispensable. 

This is a fantastic habit to get in, and stay in throughout your career. Clear the path for your boss in any way possible:  by doing things like scheduling meetings, answering calls, and taking on all the grunt work you'll clear a path for yourself. 

If you can forget about taking credit, and trade short term gratification for long term pay off, you'll stand out and excel.  

Published on: Jul 27, 2016
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