The Dos and Don’ts of The Working World: Part One

By Ben Chong

A few weeks ago, our founder Marcus was invited to speak at Sunway College’s Explore Talk. The initiative helps students prepare for the working world after graduation. By reaching into his own career experiences, he explained how in reality every industry valued an how well-developed an employee was over how well educated they were. Marcus spoke about the 10 key skills most graduates would need to possess outside of education in order to succeed:

1. Be Self-Aware

Self-awareness lets us be concious of our own character and feelings at all times. In workplace settings, this becomes a crucial skill. When things get heated and the pressure of deadlines get to you, being self-aware allows you to step away momentarily, observe your emotions, and understand how its affecting your work. Competent employees use self-awareness to both minimise harm when they’re at a low point, and maximise their productivity when they are in a good mood.

2. Be Observant
Too often, employees are too quick to share their opinions instead of observing situations first. As new employees, learn to take time to observe yourself, your surroundings, and your work. Being able to hang back at the workplace, and analyse situations can lead you to better, more thought out ideas. This lets you contribute more effectively at work, and helps you stand out among your peers.

3. Always Communicate
One of the trickiest skills to master as an employee is to communicate well with others. In most cases, fresh graduates and experienced employees alike make the mistake of giving their opinion too quickly. When you prioritise listening to others over giving your own opinion, you allow coworkers and clients space to express themselves, understand them more deeply, and make better responses. This turns you into an employee who is valuable, trustworthy, and patient.

4. Engage In Politics
Despite technology’s fast-evolving flood into various industries, the success of a workplace still depends on its people. As new employees, its important to realise all great projects hinge on the responses of people involved. Learn to engage in the politics of a workplace, check who is involved in your tasks, and make a point in interacting with them. This lets you encourage more positive responses within projects, and increases your chances at success.

5. Learn To Value Add
Take the initiative to do more than just your initial workload, and become a well-rounded employee. Encourage yourself to observe and ask your clients and supervisors what more can you contribute to help them. This may involve taking on additional tasks, roles, and even further learning. By learning to value add, you push yourself to become a multi-faceted employee who is reliable in and out of your typical roles.

6. Keep Changing
Monotony is the greatest enemy of any employee, especially new ones. Let yourself change and adapt faster to the working world by adopting a learning posture. Always ask yourself how you can do your work more efficiently, explore new ways to fulfill tasks, and allow yourself to experiment in the workplace.

7. Think Critically and Creatively
Critical and creative thinking are more than just buzz words and mandatory classes. By adopting these two thought processes, you provide yourself a framework to launch deep analysis, and create meaningful ideas in the workplace. This allows you to catch the finer details in projects where others may falter.

8. Spot Trends
Mobile media consumption has reportedly almost quintupled since 2011 from 5% to 24% of the global population, more than 2 billion people. This rise in technology and media consumption has made trend-spotting a valuable work asset. Being able to spot trends allows you to come up with better ideas, solutions and insights. Even by investing just a little time to catching up with the news can give you an edge as an employee.

9. Embrace Failures
The truth of the matter is that you will fail at your work, a lot. No one is perfect but by admitting so, you allow yourself to embrace those failures, and learn from them. Learning to embrace failures lets you become a resilient and reliable employee who can be counted on to pick themselves up when the pressure is on.

10. Find mentors
One of the biggest misconceptions new employees fall for is assuming their career can only be built alone. This only serves to isolate new employees, make them feel lost in their work, and prevent them from working efficiently in teams. To avoid this, make it your priority to seek out a mentor. Be open-minded, and seek out senior professionals to ask for their opinions. Having a mentor can help ground you in the most difficult times, and their experience can be key to helping you grow into a valuable employee.

Want to know if you’re ready for the working world? Positive X is a people development firm that equips talents with design, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking and skills. You can know more about us at

This article was written by Ben Chong, our resident Design Thinking enthusiast and creative.

Edited by Ben Chong.

This article is part one of a two-part series.

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