Going corporate – what to expect & how to excel
Overwhelmed, intimidated, out of place. I’ve been there: coming from a non-traditional work environment, where I spent 6 years working as a uniform-wearing, hourly-paid, customer-facing employee, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I accepted my first corporate office job with Proven Recruiting.
There are certain things you can do to succeed in corporate, and the faster you figure them out, the better your chances of sticking around.
Our fears rarely match reality, and – as you may have guessed – the transition was far less scary than I’d made it out to be. But that’s not to say that there wasn’t a significant adjustment period; everything I knew about work had to be rethought and relearned.
Here’s what you need to know for a (relatively) painless transition.
1. Commit to ‘deadline culture.’
If you’re going to trip up anywhere, it’ll probably be here. When you’ve never had to stick to a specific production schedule, it can be easy to put off work and downplay the importance of meeting certain thresholds or deadlines.
The difference is, now (vs. before) you have a team depending on your output, and when you miss a deadline your entire team – or office, potentially – suffers. Not to mention the fact that it reflects badly on you as a worker and will likely come up in your next evaluation.
Your best defense is aggressive organization. Keep an agenda, log reminders into your online calendar, and make yourself accountable. If you really believe in the value of the work you’re doing, and the integrity of your team, you’ll make it a priority to stay on track – whatever it takes.
If you’re struggling, try adopting some practical routines. Start a morning routine, during which time you check emails, run through your to-do list, and set daily goals. At the end of the day, follow up with a shutdown routine – check out our go-to shutdown routine here.
2. Find a team of supporters.
In other words, make some friends at work. Studies show that healthy work relationships can boost your performance and increase job satisfaction. It’s much easier to show up on time and get your work done when you’re in good company.
It’s equally important to have a trusted work friend to whom you can express your failures or struggles. Working in a totally new environment, under new conditions, you’re guaranteed to mess up. Having someone to discuss your frustrations with and to offer possible solutions or coaching will provide you with necessary support.
3. Watch. Listen. Mimic. Repeat.
You’re in a new environment with only a vague idea of how to act – so what’s your best strategy? Become a chameleon.
That’s not to say don’t be yourself. It’s important to lend a personal touch to your job; there’s a reason they hired you and not someone else. But if you want to learn quickly, you’ll have to become an expert watcher, listener, and imitator.
If your workplace has an open environment, all the better. You’ll get unfettered access to your co-workers’ approaches. As a recruiter, I find listening to phone calls with candidates and companies invaluable.
And on that note – it’s also incredibly intimidating. Hearing and watching your company’s top performers can make you feel inadequate. In those times, you have to focus on mindset. Remember that your boss knows you’re new, and doesn’t expect the same of you as they do of workplace veterans. Take this time to simply learn.
All that to say…
Though my last job was, in many ways, less demanding, it was also fulfilling in one important sense – it allowed me to connect directly with people. Discovering that motivator for me has meant everything. Now in my new corporate job, I can continue my mission of connecting and helping people.
Finding which elements of your job you truly enjoy, and identifying the ways in which they can cross over into your next career, is crucial to your success. You don’t want to ‘go corporate’ just for salary or prestige; you want it to mean something. Figure out what that is and the rest will fall into place – with a little help from the three points I’ve outlined above.
Looking to make the transition? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more insider recruiter advice and job search guidance.