Several years ago when I first started working for my current employer, I was dealing with clients and colleagues that were significantly older than myself and I encountered a problem wherein I was not being taken seriously. I came to the conclusion that while perhaps part of the problem was in my youthful appearance (no longer a problem unfortunately), part of the solution lay in making my work attire more professional. As I work in recreation, even describing our dress code as "business casual" would be a stretch. I improved my appearance and my problem went away. Did I get some of my coworkers ribbing me because I was "overdressed"? Sure, but they also used to give me a hard time for getting to work an hour before them every day. I wonder where that insecurity comes from?
Somebody much smarter than myself once said, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." Maybe it's not practical for you to wear a suit to work, but that saying is an excellent metaphor for all aspects of your job performance. Doing the bare minimum that is expected of you in any situation is never going to put you ahead of the curve. Do most of your coworkers arrive at work just at their expected start time? Do they have their bags packed when that imaginary whistle blows at the end of the day? Do you hear people say things like, "That's not in my job description?" These are all areas in which people are meeting only their minimum expectations and also easy opportunities for you to distinguish yourself. When it comes time for that open position to be filled or when another prospective employer comes calling for a reference, these are the types of things that your boss will remember. Well, that and the excellent work you do anyway right?
So let's revise our saying . . . Work for the job you want, not the job you have.
Shaun Bossio is the Assistant Business Manager and ProShop Manager at Boston University FitRec.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org