August 16, 2012

common mistakes to avoid in the workplace

Today's awesome guest post is written by Lauren Bailey. She has hit the nail right on the head with her tips for young professionals just starting out with their careers. Enjoy guys!

About two years ago I temporarily worked as a writer for an advertising company in the city. I already had a few years of corporate job experience under my belt, so working in an office setting and working as a subordinate wasn't anything new to me. But for Megan, the 23-year-old who just graduated with a bachelor's degree in marketing a few weeks before, the working world was a rude awakening. She was late all the time, couldn't follow orders correctly, and by the end of month four already complained about her salary and requested a raise. It's safe to say she didn't get it.

While her sometimes overly rude mannerisms and unprofessionalism were initially blamed on her upbringing, we began to notice that a lot of the younger employees acted the same way.
Finally an employee explained the phenomena: "those are just millennials for you."
In short, millennials are those that fall somewhere between 18-and 29-years-old. They're fresh out of school and are known for being super ambitious.  Unfortunately, the same qualities that make millennials great can sometimes leave a sour taste in employers' mouths. That's because some employers find millennials too eager and unruly, which causes them to make several "mistakes" in the workplace.

Of course this is a generalization and not all millennials act like this, but just to make sure that you don't potentially sabotage your first job, it would be wise if you avoided a few common mistakes mostly associated with new graduates. To learn what those are continue reading below.

Don't Expect a Flexible Schedule

Perhaps some millennials are just too accustomed to arriving to classes late (or skipping them altogether) so they don't even blink when they shift the same habits to the workplace, but it's a really big problem. Not only can tardiness affect your performance review and jeopardize your potential raise, but it can get you fired. It's unacceptable period. So you should be respectful of your contract hours. If that means you need to skip out on the late night partying to get to work on time, so be it.

On a similar note, if you were hired to work 9-to-5, don't ask your supervisor if you can leave early because you finished all of your work. Pace yourself accordingly so that you're working the entire day.  If you need more work, then ask for it. But do know that unlike school, "overachievers" do not receive praise which leads us to our next mistake—

Don't Expect Too Much

Some millennials also sometimes have a habit of wanting rewards and recognition for the things they contribute to the company. You're not going to get a gold star sticker or get a written "good work today" from your boss every time you complete a project. After all, it’s your <i>job</i> to complete your tasks. Your reward is your paycheck.  But if you're worried about your performance, like the old expression goes, "no news is good news." So just continue to make sure that you do your absolute best on every assignment and project you are given. Don't get discouraged because you don't get the feedback or the reassurance you crave. 

You also need to understand that opportunities like raises and promotions come with time. You have to earn those things over time. In fact, talks of raises don't even occur until employee evaluations, which should be around your one year anniversary with the company. So be patient.  Don't feel under appreciated because it doesn’t happen within the first few months.

Don't Overstep Boundaries

You also need to respect your supervisor and avoid stepping on too many toes. This means not going over your direct supervisor's head and sending your CEO an email about your great ideas when you just started working there a few weeks before. Go through the proper levels. It may seems like you're taking the initiative, but no one knows you. You'll most likely get a "who do you think you are?" from your new employees. Earn everyone's respect first. People don't know you yet and this kind of behavior will be looked down on. 

Don't Get Distracted

Finally, millennials are known for using social media sites like no other. But unless your job requires you to be on Facebook and Twitter all day, you need to slow your roll and do that during your lunch break or wait until you get home. Aimlessly surfing the web to check various social media accounts, checking funny tumblrs, and watching YouTube videos can easily distract you from the tasks at hand. And you don't want to risk your boss walking behind you and seeing you're not on task either.  Eliminate your distractions. This includes your cell phone too.

Lauren Bailey is an education writer and freelance blogger. She frequently writes about online colleges and courses. She also enjoys providing career advice for new graduates. She welcomes comments and questions via email at

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