Your resume says a lot about your work experience, but it doesn’t tell employers anything about the nasty personal habits you may have that alienate you from the rest of the office. And while it sounds harsh, the reality of the situation is, what your co-workers think of your personal flaws can be just as detrimental to your career as a poor work ethic, especially when these co-workers could turn into potential references. Here are some general tips you might want to follow in the workplace:
Be Cordial – No one is asking you to shake the hand of everyone you walk past, but if you pass someone in the hall, it might be nice to smile or nod your head to acknowledge their presence. It goes a long way in building connections with people you may have to work with in the future. If you come across like you are too good for your co-workers, you never know what important decision-maker you might rub the wrong way; thereby hurting your opportunities to work on specific projects that might interest you or could advance your career.
Practice Bathroom Etiquette – Wash your hands after you use the bathroom. It seems like common sense and yet, it isn’t. People think that because their hands didn’t come in contact with anything, they don’t have to wash them. But perception is reality. If you finish your business and walk out of the bathroom without washing your hands, your co-worker is thinking two things: “I will never shake that person’s hand again,” and “Gross…what if he touches something I touch.” The same goes for your need to call a friend or check your social media accounts while sitting in the bathroom stall. Crapper + Cell Phone = Disgusting…because no one knows for sure what was touched and when and now you are suddenly a walking germ.
Keep It Clean – When you own a home, you can make it as messy as you want; when you rent a home, you can technically do the same thing. But when you work for someone, you don’t own or rent that space and should respect who does, especially since there is always the possibility that a potential client or customer might come to the office for a meeting and get a very poor perception of the company based on its employees’ messy ways. Keep your workspace clean - your office supplies in order, wash your mugs (something’s growing in there and HR did not approve of the new addition to staff), throw out your soda cans and potato chip bags (this isn’t an art project) and keep things looking professional. Then go home and throw your clothes on the floor if that makes you feel better.
Keep Personal Calls to a Minimum – I know you think your life is intriguing and maybe it is, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear about your triumphs and failures. If a personal call comes through and it is going to be a lengthy conversation, take it out of the room. People are working and can easily be distracted by personal calls or outside group discussions. To avoid contributing to the problem, limit cell phone use to a minimum, especially in meetings where texts, emails and other social engagements make you look rude even if you consider yourself an excellent multitasker. Your focus should be on work and the rules of the workplace (even if some of those rules may be outdated).
Call in Sick – It’s great that companies give out Perfect Attendance Awards. Wait, no they don’t, so why did you come in looking like death? If you’re sick and you work in the close proximity of others, stay home. There is no need to potentially pass it on to others just because you feel guilty calling out sick. You may think your boss will applaud your commitment, but they may be angered by your lack of respect for others. We’ve all been in the situation where the illness spreads from one person to the next to the point where the original culprit ends up getting sick again. When this happens, workplace productivity suffers. But if you call in sick, you may be able to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. Of course, that means using your sick days for when you’re sick, not for when you want to play golf or go to the beach.
You did it! You’re a lawyer, and you’ve got a job! Whether you have your own office or a cube, you hopefully have at least one drawer for your personal belongings. Assuming that your place of employment has been kind enough to supply you with office supplies (not necessarily a given, but most legal jobs are at least good for some pens and paper), here are a few suggestions of items to fill that special drawer and make your life slightly more tolerable:
• Advil (or other painkiller of your choice). Useful for: hangovers, caffeine headaches, and that strange throbbing in your brain that comes as a consequence of not sleeping for two straight days.
• Kleenex. There will be tears. Have something to catch them with.
• Phone charger. Sometimes your phone is the only thing really connecting you with people on the outside, especially if your office has gone the newly prevalent route of cutting off access to Gmail and Gchat from your work computer. You don’t want it to die on you, and your meager social life with it.
• Hand sanitizer. Shared spaces are disgusting and you need to keep those hands clean. Especially considering how often you will likely be facepalming.
• Lysol wipes. Similarly, you might want to wipe your desk down from time to time, especially if you eat at it, and you will eat at your desk. If you don’t believe me, try shaking your keyboard upside down some time. You’ll find food particles from sandwiches you had long forgotten.
• Pepto bismol/Tums. You’ll think about ordering a salad, but when you’re ordering dinner at 9:30 and your night at the office is just beginning, you’ll probably order a Styrofoam box full of heartburn instead.
• Deodorant. Both in case you forget, and because you may from time to time be held prisoner at your desk for days on end.
• Foot deodorizer. Feet can get super stinky, especially in the summer (and especially if you don’t wear socks with your shoes, because you are a woman or a man with no regard for the nostrils of others).
• Lip balm or chapstick. Office environments are often dry as a bone, especially during the winter when the heat is running all the time - and chapped lips never look professional. Nor does the “freshly bitten” look.
• Safety pins. Wardrobe malfunctions can and do happen!
If you didn’t catch our previous post about BigLaw employee benefit packages, take a look here. In that post, we outlined “typical” benefits that BigLaw firms offer their associates, and highlighted some very important but often underutilized benefits that can greatly improve associate quality of life.
If you’ve ever used a job search engine such as Indeed or Monster, you may have come across some strange or otherwise perplexing job postings. These can often be amusing due to unfortunate spelling errors or odd language syntax, but there might be more to it than just a few silly mistakes.