It never hurts to make a good impression at work

I am a little nervous about my job, with the economy the way it is.

Dear Working Wise: I am a little nervous about my job, with the economy the way it is.

How can I make myself stand out as a valuable employee? — Nervous

Dear Nervous: The job market has actually improved during the past year, but it never hurts to stand out at work as one of the staff your boss can’t live without.

Put these practical strategies to work for you if you want your boss to value you.

Be reliable

• Be on time and maintain good attendance.

• Call if you’re going to be late or can’t make it to work.

• Keep your promises and complete your tasks on time.

• Be honest and trustworthy.

• Stay healthy — physically and mentally.

• Be professional

• Dress appropriately — professional and up-to-date.

• Keep your skills and training current.

• Double-check the quality of your own work.

• Stay organized and keep your work area tidy.

• Take responsibility for your mistakes.

• Know your job and how to do it properly.

• Respect your boss and co-workers — avoid distractions (e.g., cellphone) and side conversations during meetings.

• Avoid excessive gossiping, personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing.

• Don’t share colourful stories from your personal life at work.

• Don’t complain about your job, boss or co-workers on your Facebook page or blog.

• Be proactive

• Learn all you can about the organization and how you can contribute.

• Offer your boss ideas on how you can contribute more.

• Look for things that need to be done and do them, but check with your boss first to ensure he or she notices your initiative and agrees that it is a priority.

• Try to make your boss’s job easier by anticipating what they will want or need.

• Learn more about the jobs of the people around you.

• Learn a skill that will help you stand out (e.g., become the department proofreader or the department expert on a specific computer program).

• Earn a new credential/licence/ticket/certification that makes you more valuable.

• Ask for help if you need it — recognizing your limits is a sign of personal strength and maturity.

• Work safely.

• Be a team player

• Strike “that’s not in my job description” from your vocabulary.

• Help your co-workers with their projects if asked by your boss. You will learn something new and gain a reputation as a helpful co-worker and employee.

• Be willing to share information.

• Support and encourage your co-workers.

• Be positive

• Maintain a positive attitude.

• Be flexible and open to taking on new tasks and learning new skills.

• Keep learning — new skills and tasks make you a more marketable employee.

• Ask if you don’t know how to do something. Asking shows that you want to do things right and that you’re willing to learn.

• Employers want loyal, hardworking, conscientious employees. The most effective way to do this is to bring a positive attitude with you to work.

Put these tips to work for you and show your boss that hiring you was one of the best decisions he or she ever made.

Working Wise is compiled by Charles Strachey of Alberta Employment and Immigration ( for general information.