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01. Assess Your Situation
First and foremost, figure out where you stand. Are you looking for a better job because your current job isn't paying enough, or because you feel underutilized or overworked? Are you just looking for a raise at your current job? Are you a small business looking to expand, or a large one looking to downsize? By figuring out exactly what needs to change about your current situation, you can give yourself the time to clearly plot out the best course of action. It's a good idea to make a list of your goals, as well.
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02. Job Hunting? Define Your Bottom Line
One of the things most people never think about is how little they're willing to work for. Sure, all of us defined our "It would be great if I could get...", and we know logically what we're worth, and we have a number that we think we'd settle for if it was offered to us, but do you have an absolute minimum? For example, you might want to get $50,000, but you know you're worth $48,000, but you'd probably settle for $45,000 if they offered it to you. Maybe $44,000, if the place seems like there's a chance for advancement. Stop! Don't let yourself talk like that. Don't go job hunting before defining the absolute minimum you're willing to work for, because potential employers might keep trying to haggle you down to well below what you think you're really worth, or what you really want to accept. So for my example, maybe you're hoping for $50,000, but the absolute least you'll work for is $43,000, so $43,000 would be your bottom line.
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03. Be Flexible
Whether you're new to the job market, looking to change jobs, or just trying to succeed in today's job market, flexibility is something that will serve you well. The ability to remain flexible when working is one of the number one assets that both employers and clients look for. Be open to suggestions and willing to do a little overtime from time to time. Listen to others ideas when they are presented to you and actually take them into consideration - don't just say you will! By doing this, people will find you more reliable and you'll further your options for success.
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04. ... But Stand Your Ground
While flexibility is prized in the workplace, there is a very big difference between being flexible and being a pushover. If you simply go along with what everyone says, you may find yourself being overshadowed by stronger personalities in the workplace. Sure, you were nice enough to organize all the information for your team's project and to most of the research yourself, but that isn't going to stop them from trying to take a lot of the credit. Just remember, there's a way to respectfully stand your ground when in the workplace. Assert your opinions in a non-threatening way, smile, and make eye contact. Don't be standoffish, or you're likely to get yourself in some hot water!
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05. Stand Out
This is another tip that works for just about anyone, whether you're seeking a job or are worried about succeeding in today's job market. Try your hardest to stand out from the other employees in the workplace, or the other applicants in line for the same job. By being someone who is known for a good personality and a unique (but professional), look, people are likely to remember when it comes time to hire or hand out promotions. So maybe it's time you dust off a few of those jokes (but remember to keep the jokes clean), and brush up on your water cooler conversation topics.
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06. Improve Your Job-Related Skills
This is especially important for those of you looking to survive, and thrive, in the workplace. Take advantage of any optional workshops and training that relate to your job, and don't be afraid to go out of your way to learn about new and effective methods for doing what you're being paid to do. By showing that you're willing to work to stay at the top of your pack, employers will remember that you're going to grow with the company, rather than hold it back.
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07. Sell Yourself
Okay, so don't literally sell yourself. Still, it doesn't hurt to think of yourself as a product. You want to list your best assets when possible, and showcase them through your work. Are you exceptional at communicating with people? Make sure that's listed on your résumé; even if the job you're applying for might not require it. Do you have any exceptional skills that other people may not be able to bring to the workplace? Try to showcase these as often as possible to make sure your employers know why they want you around!
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08. Practice Good Communication Skills
One of the saddest things to see in the workplace is a hard worker who can't manage to voice their opinion or work well with others because of poor communication skills. Whether you're shy or just tongue-tied, you'll likely benefit from practicing your communication skills. Whenever possible, try to convey your thoughts and opinions clearly. If you still have problems, try some scenario practicing with a friend or family member, or see if there is a local speech and debate club you can observe (or even take part in).
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09. Meet the Needs of Your Employer/Company
Sure, most people think of their job as a way to put food on their plate and a roof over their head, but is this really the best way to look at it? An employee who has a self-serving attitude rarely makes it very far -- especially if they only put in the minimum amount of effort to fulfill their job requirements. Employees who put in the time and effort to meet the needs and exceed the expectations of their employer or company tend to survive and even excel in the workplace.
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I know it sounds incredibly simple, but bringing a pleasant attitude to the workplace or a job interview is one of the easiest ways to please employers, coworkers, and clients. As people, we tend to remember both the bad and the good, and it will serve you much better to be remembered as someone with a pleasant demeanor and an eager attitude, rather than someone who is just suffering through the workday, just trying to make it until five o'clock!