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7 Tips for “The New Guy”

Although we often work with mid-life career changers, we’re frequently asked to to offer advice to those nearer to the beginning of their career (that time when it may seem that success is far away). As a newcommer, you’re likely at the bottom of the hierarchy, you have no responsibility, and your salary is relatively low. Still, what you may lack in postion you make up for in optimism and energy (traits we not only remain envious of but also secretly hope are contagious). Aside from hard work, longevity, and luck, there are certain qualities shared by those who succeed. Here are seven tips for achieving success in any career:

 1. Make Good Mistakes

It’s not smart or constructive to repeat old mistakes, but sometimes making new mistakes can be beneficial (as long as no serious harm results). Assuming a desire to contribute to the team’s (or company’s) success, erring on the side of boldness, is nothing short of inspirational. And the earlier you realize that making a mistake helps you to rule out one option and choose a better one, the more comfortable you be managing the risks that will invariably accompany the bigger decisions in your future. The key is not to stop making mistakes, it’s prioritizing the lessons learned when mistakes are made. Remember the famous words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

2. Keep it simple.

Complexity and effectiveness are not linked. Sure, some things, like neurosurgery and astrophysics, are complex. However, most fields of human endeavor are not so complicated. Whatever task is assigned to you, make it your mission to find the simplest method of successfully completing it. The simplest method is the easiest to remember and reproduce, and it is the easiest approach to teach someone else.

3. Dress the part.

Whatever field you are working in, dress appropriately and maintain high standards of grooming. Whether others dress this way or not is irrelevant, especially in an era when attitudes toward work attire are in flux. Those who came before you (read as “those currently higher in the food chain” or “meaningful customer/client”) were subject to differing conditions, have differing expectations, and are likely less flexible in this area. Dressing for the role isn’t “sucking up,” it’s a reflection of self-respect. Always take advantage of opportunties that are within your control and set you apart in a positive way.

4. Treat colleagues well.

Always consider your peers within the organization to be your collaborators. Don’t compete with them or try to overshadow them. If you share your knowledge and expertise with your peers, they will almost always reciprocate, which benefits both of you as well as your employer.

5. Shed blood, sweat, and tears.

Whatever else changes in the work world, it remains true that those employees who work hardest are valued and retained. This means that you don’t take it easy when the boss isn’t looking, you don’t take shortcuts that lower the quality of your work, you don’t sneak out early on a Friday afternoon, and you remain willing to make appropriate personal sacrifices for the company.

6. Upgrade your skills and knowledge.

The time you spent receiving an education and training before you entered the workforce should not be the last time you enter a classroom or open a textbook. All that you learned has gotten you here, but it isn’t enough to get you there. Embrace life-long learning – in your field and otherwise. Those who build on their interests, build on themselves – their knowledge, abilities, and career potential. If you want to succeed, look for any opportunity to improve.

7. Listen to a mentor.

One of the first real-world lessons to learn is that you don’t know everything. That’s why it is helpful to have a mentor who can teach you things you might never figure out on your own. Just as importantly, the mentor will help you to avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your career plans.


Success seldom comes easily, but these seven recommendations will help you get there. Achieving success in your career contributes to a happy and fulfilled life, and every ounce of effort that you expend is worthwhile.

Have another suggestion for ” The New Guy?” Add your thoughts to the comments below.

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