You may have exciting visions of one day becoming an IT consultant, or perhaps a partner in a top accountancy firm. However, you can’t just step into these roles overnight.
Getting there requires a lot of hard work and steady climbing up the ranks. Most of these career journeys begin at the bottom of the corporate ladder in what is known as the “dogsbody”.
The dogsbody may unfortunately find themselves as the one completing menial and less important tasks in the workplace. If you find that this is you, then it might not be the most exciting start - but don’t get frustrated. You can actually turn the situation around and make it into an opportunity.
Focus on standing out from the crowd, grab the attention of key decision makers, and be seen as an employee who is worthy of greater responsibility.
Not sure how to get started? Follow our top 10 tips here:
1. Be punctual
Although you may only have filing on your “to do” list, it’s still important to show up to work on time, or early. Don’t try to sneak off 10 minutes early either as it won’t go unnoticed.
2. Dress for the job you want
Have you ever heard the phrase “dress for the job you want, not the one you have”? Even though you might be the office dogsbody, stuck in the photocopying room all day, it’s still important to dress for success. First impressions matter and you never know who you might meet during your day.
3. Pass on a smile
Although you may not want to fetch coffees for everyone (again), or file even more documents, make sure you go about your tasks with a smile. Not only can smiling improve your mood, you can appear more approachable to others as a form of positive body language. Smiling is also contagious and can help to brighten up someone else’s day.
4. Build professional relationships
Starting a new job can be a daunting experience, so get some much needed support by making friends. Although it can be good to cling to other juniors, use the opportunity to meet a selection of other people within the business. Try and build a positive, professional relationship with your boss and reach out to people in other teams or departments. You never know when this might come in useful, as they could hear of a job opening, or put a good word in for you if you apply for a promotion.
5. Even as a dogsbody, give 100%
It goes without saying that you should do a good job, however mundane or repetitive the tasks are that you’ve been given. So, whether you’re making coffee, scanning files, or tidying up a cupboard, do the best job you can. You might think it doesn’t matter, but your approach to these tasks can show someone your true work ethics.
6. Use your initiative
Demonstrate your true value by showing your initiative. Instead of sitting at your desk and twiddling your thumbs, be proactive and work out what needs to be done next. You could even reach out to colleagues who may need some extra help.
7. Go above and beyond
Asked to do a task? Although you could just do the bare minimum, why not wow your boss by going the extra mile. For example, you could do some extra research, brainstorm some new ideas or think of ways to simplify a process in order to save the business time and money.
8. Don’t stand still
Although you should accept that you may be required to do simple, or repetitive tasks, you shouldn’t be the office dogsbody forever. Ask your manager for a performance review where you can discuss your role and ask for feedback on how to improve. Show your passion for the job and find out what you need to do to move forward in your career.
9. Be curious
Although you may only be responsible for basic tasks, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn. Be resourceful by doing your own research. If you can’t find the answer, or need someone to explain something, ask your manager. It will show that you’re interested and it may even help you to be given more responsibility.
10. Stay positive
Although this may not seem like your dream job right now, it’s important to stay positive and keep going. Everyone must start somewhere. Just take a look at Steve Jobs, who started his career working on an assembly line at HP. Or Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO at Xerox, who started at the company in 1980 as a summer intern, but who has worked her way to the top, becoming one of the most powerful woman in the world.
Think of this as your first stepping stone. You won’t be a dogsbody forever and remember, you can’t win a race if you don’t start (or you give up half way).