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How to Keep a Job


  1. It’s not fair to be judged competent by style of dress.  However, even though the job may be a difficult one, customers will judge a person as having little or no authority or peers will see a person as less capable than others, if not dressed the part. 

  2. The type of dress will depend on the position, but the key is to be neat, well-groomed, clean in appearance, and exhibit good hygiene. 

  3. There may be a written dress code; but depending on the company, dress could become more relaxed on the job. 

  4. Look around to see what other people are wearing, but be sure and pick a role model who is well respected.

  5. If desiring a promotion, dress one level higher than what current position calls for.

  6. Remember, the company will not adapt to suit the employee . . . the employee will have to adapt to suit the company. 



All companies have written and unwritten rules:

    Written Rules: 

  1. Finding out about the written rules is easy . . . employees should receive an employee handbook.  If one is not received, then ask if a handbook can be made available.  Next, read it! 

  2. Ask to see an organizational chart to learn where each employee stands in the company and who is above and below them.  Employees who make themselves known in the company can assist them in moving up the ladder.

    Unwritten Rules: 

  1. The company’s unwritten rules are a little tougher to figure out, but not impossible.  The key is to watch what goes on around the company. 

  2. Find out the answers to some of these questions: 

  • Do coworkers eat or drink at their desk? 

  • Do coworkers smoke on the premises? 

  • Do coworkers accept and make personal telephone calls?

  • Is it permitted to just walk into another coworker’s office or is an appointment needed?

  1. Emulate the actions of those employees who are well respected. 

  2. Just because several others in the office take an hour and a half lunch break, does not mean that every employee should follow their lead.  Chances are these people are not getting away with anything and the boss will recognize that when promotion time rolls around.


  1. For introductions, keep in mind one rule:  name the person desiring to be given the greater courtesy to first. 

  2. Include any titles such as Doctor, Governor; plus their affiliation, such as York Technical College. 

  3. Listed below are some specific rules:

  • When introducing a younger person to an older person, name the older person first. 

  • When introducing a man and a woman in a casual setting, name the woman first. 

  • When introducing a man and a woman in a business setting, name the person with the greater authority first. 

  • When introducing two employees in the same company, name the person with the greater authority first. 

  • When introducing a customer/visitor to someone in your company, name the visitor first. 

  • When introducing an individual to a group, name the individual first.  Self-introductions will probably follow, but if that is not the case, then name each person in the group. 

  1. Stand when being introduced, as a sign of respect.


  1. When addressing a superior, use Mr. Smith, Miss Jones, Ms. Brown, Mrs. Anderson, or  Dr. Moore until instructed by this authority figure to call them by their first name. 

  2. Peers will also indicate what they prefer to be called.  

  3. Ms. refers to both an unmarried or married woman and this is safe to use when the marital status is unknown.


  1. A handshake is a good way to break down barriers.  Whether male or female, extend a hand to another male or female, whether walking into an  interview or meeting a new customer or employee on the job. 

  2. The handshake should be a firm grip . . . a limp handshake or a bone crusher is a real turn off.

  3. The handshake should be web-to-web. 

  4. The handshake is a non-verbal sign of confidence. 

  5. Remember, sweaty palms don’t make a good impression either!


  1. Once graduated and employment is secured, keep in mind that learning never stops. 

  2. A person becomes stagnant if doing the same thing the same way for years to come. 

  3. If the company offers to pay for courses to advance employees’ skills, take advantage of these opportunities.  This shows initiative and it may elevate a person on the list of candidates to be promoted.  

  4. If in-house programs/seminars are offered, be sure to participate. This is a way to get noticed. 

  5. Networking outside of the organization is also important in order to keep a person’s name in front of others.  Join clubs or professional organizations to meet others who could advance a person’s career.  A person will be glad to have made these contacts, if rumors are heard of layoffs or company closings at the employee’s own organization.


  1. Be prepared – always have paper and pencil within easy reach. 

  2. Answer the telephone promptly. 

  3. When talking on the telephone, make an effort to smile – this will portray friendliness and pleasantness. 

  4. Take messages carefully.

  5. Do not record “cute” messages on answering machine – it should be professional and businesslike. 

  6. Telephone calls should be returned within 24 hours. 

  7. Ask permission before putting someone on hold.

  8. Do not hold a conversation with someone else while talking on the telephone. 

  9. Immediately make introductions when calling someone, and explain the reason for the call. 

  10. Do not eat, drink, smoke, type, or file papers while talking on the telephone.


  1. The majority of workers are terminated because they cannot get along with others and they do not possess the proper professional attitude.

  2. The following are signs of a good attitude and may help increase chances for success and promotion in the workplace:

    • Maintain excellent attendance records; arrive to work on time; and never abuse lunch and break times. 

    • Always try to improve work by organizing materials; keeping work area clean; utilizing time efficiently; trying to work quickly yet accurately; being able to work well under pressure; and making sure assignments or projects are turned in on time.

    • Learn to listen without interruption, particularly if instructions are being given – and learn to follow instructions but don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is not understood.

    • Get important things in writing – don’t rely on what other people have said.

    • Do not give orders to others unless possessing the authority to do so . . . coworkers don’t appreciate a bossy attitude.

    • Always practice good communication skills and professional telephone courtesy.

    • Learn to accept criticism and learn from mistakes; don’t hold grudges; be a good loser; and do not display a bad attitude when ideas are not utilized.

    • Accept responsibility and do not “pass the buck.”

    • Show good judgment; maintain confidentiality; think over a response before being blunt or harsh; and practice patience. 

    • If not able to say something nice, don’t say anything at all; do not be a gossip, the bearer of bad news, or join the “rumor mill”; do not get involved in the arguments of others – personal involvement may not be appreciated as much as someone thinks. 

    • Always show consistent businesslike attitude with coworkers and superiors; treat internal customers with as much respect as external customers.

    • It is important to always give outstanding customer service. 

    • Respect people for their good qualities, even though they may have faults.  Find the good in everyone. 

    • Don’t be a “know-it-all;” respect the ideas of others, and acknowledge their merit; and always give a “thank you” to those who have helped out.

    • People appreciate sincerity; coworkers like being around a positive, happy person; be helpful to others; and keep promises.

    • Don’t be a “clock watcher.”

    • Know and follow company rules and regulations. 

    • Show pride in work and always keep a positive attitude.

    • Practice the golden rule – be considerate of others.

    • Pay attention to dress, hygiene, body language, and manners. 

    • Try to save the company money by conserving materials and supplies.


This page is maintained by the Career Services Office.  Last updated:  July 15, 2009