After almost one year of job hunting, I was accepted by a good and reputable company and given a job in line with the college course I had taken. But as I look and observe the people especially my age mates, in the department where I work, I feel inferior for the following reasons: many of them graduated from excellent universities, are very articulate in their communication in English, are smart dressers (we don’t have company uniform), are very sociable and have a social life after work, especially on Fridays. In my case, I graduated from a not-so-good school (although I graduated magna cum laude in my course), am plain looking, have difficulty expressing myself in straight English, have no friends in the office, and I’m always by myself on Friday evenings.
I feel I don’t belong to the department. My boss just talked to me twice after I was hired, and that was two months ago. She did not even bother to introduce me to the other members of the department. What shall I do to be “in” and to shine? Please advise me as I always enjoy reading your advice. Thank you.
Because you always look at other people, especially your peers, you don’t see your positive points. Having graduated magna cum laude shows you to be very intelligent, achievement-oriented, self-motivated and self driven (this accounts for getting consistently high grades), good in written communication in English (I made very minor corrections in your grammar), good in all subjects (major and non-majors, academic and non-academic), etc. The recruitment staff and your superiors in your company had evaluated your total person, liked what they saw in you, heard you talk and saw how you responded to interview questions, etc. And they hired you! Surely, the “good and reputable company” that hired you had very stringent standards which you passed! Congratulations! As you read what I’ve written above, stop for a while, pause and smile with joy! Be happy! Thank God for creating you and making you what you are now and what you have become! You have enormous potentials to be a good employee, to be “in” and to be a good person. You only have to stop comparing yourself with others and concentrate on what you can do NOW to be a better person and start to be a good employee.
What proactive things can you do to belong, to be “in”, as you write, and to shine?
First: Have positive thoughts and feelings about yourself. I gave you the lead in the first paragraph above. This will give you self-confidence to approach people in your department and initiate the introductions yourself. With a happy smile, introduce yourself, look at the name tag of the other person and then at his/her eyes. Set as a goal to interact with at least 2-3 persons a day. Get the news of the day from the newspapers or TV so that you’ll know what to say after you’ve said “Hello”. Once a year on your birthday, buy a cake and drinks and give to your co-workers. Know the birthdays of your boss and co-workers, and greet them. These little things can make you “in” and have a sense of belonging.
Second: Understand your job description. What are expectations of you in terms of standards of quality and quantity of outputs, to whom are these to be given and by when? The people who use your outputs are your internal customers; they are the ones whose needs you must satisfy. Get feedback from them about your work and how it can be improved. Your boss is your #1 Customer. She is the one who assigns tasks to you, appraises your performance and your contribution to her team, and to your company. She will have a say in assessing your potentials for career advancement. Ask for suggestions from her on how you can improve. Follow her suggestions.
Third: Meetings are an important part of corporate life. Be sure you are prepared for your presentation if you are given the role. Participate actively and listen to others as they talk. Never use your cellphone during meetings. Put it off completely so as not to be distracted and not to disturb others. Give positive feedback to those whose ideas informed, enlightened and clarified you.
Fourth: There is absolutely no excuse nowadays for any girl to be a “plain Jane”. There are so many affordable cosmetics that you can use to make you look good. For a starter, go to a cosmetics counter and have the saleslady do a make-up/make-over of your face. If you like the job done on you, that’s the time you buy the foundation, powder, lipstick, etc. Go to a beauty parlor and have them give you a new hairstyle and improve your eyebrows. Buy women’s magazine and read articles on beauty tips and follow those that you can use.
As for the attire, you can look smart using affordable clothes. Go to the ladies section of a department store and try on those appropriate for office wear and which looks good on you.
Fifth: You can profit from taking a personality test that will identify for you your strengths and your areas for improvement. Validate the results by asking people who know you if they observe the traits and behaviors of your personality type. Read self-help books such as the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Read other books to improve your personality, character and leadership. Write down doable actions you can do to apply what you have read. Give yourself a pat on the back when you get a positive result from your application.
Finally, since you say that your present job is in your chosen career, I suggest you continue your education by reading books and articles and surfing the internet in your chosen field. Share the ideas your get from your readings if asked and if given a chance to share.
The above are proactive ways you can do to achieve your personal and career goals.
God bless you.
Josie O. Santamaria