Behaviors that Tarnish Your Office Reputation – Part 2

Financial Planner, New York, NY
Capital Markets Analyst, Houston, TX
Investment Banker, Denver, CO
Brand Marketing Fellow, New York, NY
Corporate M&A Group Associate, Chicago, IL

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Welcome back to our next installment of reputation-tarnishing behaviors at work.  Last time we explored how being too assertive, overextending yourself, and failing to communicate with your boss can all have a negative impact on your status.  Read on for a few more behaviors to avoid if you’re trying to stay on everyone’s good side!

Lack of Coherency

It’s likely that at some point during your job you will have to share your work and progress with either your boss or your coworkers.  And while this may take some extra effort and energy on your part, it’s important to take the time to ensure that what you present to others is clear, logical, and legible.  A presentation that lacks these three factors can really frustrate others, and you may be forced to either rework what you did, spend a good amount of time explaining superfluous details, or have your work be disregarded altogether.  Presenting coherent, understandable work is a show of respect for your audience, so you should do your best to be as clear as possible.

Challenging Your Boss

At all times, no matter what, you should show respect for your boss.  This becomes particularly important when others are around, say, in a team meeting or even just around the office.  It’s okay to disagree with your boss, but set aside a time to do so in private.  If your boss happens to make a mistake in a meeting – and you feel that it’s important to point this out – either try to get the message to your boss discreetly or bring the matter up in as polite a way as possible.  Never try to challenge your boss in public, as this will likely cause you to be perceived as insubordinate.

Focusing Solely on Your Boss

While your relationship with your boss is crucial to your career, it’s important to also cultivate relationships with your coworkers.  These are the people with whom you will be working in teams, and perhaps more importantly, they’re the ones whom you will be working under (or above) when someone is promoted.  Don’t isolate yourself by ignoring your peers, and don’t be seen as a “brown noser” by focusing solely on your boss.  It’s imperative to be friendly with everyone and to be a team player.

Having No Reputation

One interesting point that many fail to consider is having no reputation.  While flying under the radar is certainly preferable to sticking out like a sore thumb, it’s still better to be in great standing at your place of work.  If you show up to work but remain unnoticed, you will likely miss out on many of the privileges afforded to hardworking, friendly, reliable employees.  Having no reputation does not mean that you are none of these things, it just means that you will have to put in a little extra work to be recognized as such.

That’s it for now on behavioral blunders to avoid at work.  As you can see, how you interact with both your coworkers and your boss is extremely important, and it’s worth putting in the extra effort so that people consider you a great component of the team!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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Who Makes a Good Professional Reference?

Analyst, San Diego, CA
Marketing Intern, New York, NY
Analyst, Colorado Springs, CO
Graduate Consultant, London, UK
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Employers place a lot of value on references, because these provide both an insight into how well you work with other people, as well as a subjective perspective on who you are.  While a resume is something that you can spend time tweaking and perfecting on your own, a reference isn’t entirely in your control, and is therefore more honest in some respects.  For this reason, it’s crucial that when you are deciding whom to ask for a reference, you choose someone who will not only sing your praises, but who will also be able to speak intelligently about you and give hiring managers a more complete picture of who you are and how you work.  Here are some individuals you should consider:

Your Current Employer

Few people will have a better understanding of how well you work for someone than your current employer.  Hiring managers like to speak to referrers who have a current, realistic take on the candidate being reviewed, and so they will take a lot of stock in what your current boss has to say.  Before you list this person as a reference, however, make sure that you have discussed with them your plans to find another position – otherwise you could find yourself in some hot water.

A Past Employer

A past employer is also a good person to turn to, especially if you haven’t worked too closely with your current employer.  It’s especially helpful if you had a particularly close relationship with your previous boss, and if they can provide a more valuable insight into who you are.  Depending on how much time has passed, it’s probably a good idea to refresh this person’s memory by summarizing some of the highlights from your working relationship, as well as to update them on some of your current professional endeavors.

Your Professor

Many individuals just entering the working world will turn to professors to vouch for them, and this is just as acceptable as asking an employer to refer you.  A professor will have a solid idea of your work ethic, your ability to collaborate with others, and your overall intelligence.  He or she will likely focus on the transferable skills that you possess, which you can utilize in the workplace.

A Coworker

If you feel that you cannot turn to an employer for a good reference, consider asking someone you work with.  A coworker can speak to how well you work in a team; they can also discuss your ability to take the lead on certain projects or help others with their work.

A Customer

Depending on your line of work, another individual to consider as a potential reference is a satisfied customer with whom you have worked closely.  This person can speak about your professionalism, your ability to get the job done in a timely manner, and your communication skills.  A customer who is willing to go out of their way to provide a good reference speaks volumes about your character and working style.

These are just a few of the many individuals whom you can ask for a reference.  Other examples include business contacts, teammates, family friends, and more.  Any person who is able to speak about your work ethic, leadership skills,  ability to learn, value as a team member, and so on, is a possible reference.  Just make sure that you ask them before you start giving away their contact information to hiring managers!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News January 24: How to be a Team Player

Jr. Equity Analyst, New York, NY
Senior Analyst, Washington, DC
Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
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Being successful at work is about more than just your own personal achievements at a company – it’s about working well together with others.  After all, this is how you contribute to the success of a company, which is the whole reason you are there.  And being a team player at work is about more than just collaborating on projects (this is, after all, your job), it’s also about your attitude and the gestures you make to convey that you’re a part of the team.  Integrate a few of the following pointers into your routine in order to collaborate more with your fellow workers.

Volunteer for Projects

There are always those projects that will come up at work that require a few more helping hands.  So even if said project doesn’t exactly fall under your job description, offer to help out if the team needs some extra manpower.  You’ll really help out your coworkers, people will appreciate your efforts, and you might learn something new that can help you out in your own work.

Offer to Help a Coworker

If you sense that a coworker is falling behind on their work or that they’re going to be staying late that evening working on a big project, ask them if there’s anything you can do to lighten the load.  It’s often better for the company if the project is finished more quickly, and you may help that coworker catch something that they might have missed in the anxiety of tackling such a large task in the first place.

Go to Lunch

Some people like to use their lunch breaks as a chance to run errands, catch up on emails or phone calls, or get away from the office for an hour; but make it a point at least once a week or a few times a month to sit down and talk with your coworkers over a meal.  You may find that the peers who are high-strung throughout the rest of the day are really neat people during their down time when they aren’t thinking of the work at hand.

Take Part in Company Activities

Whether it’s a potluck, a birthday celebration, or an office contest, try to get involved in company activities when these come up.  If your office is part of a recreational softball league but you just aren’t athletic, show your support by cheering on your coworkers from the stands.  Taking part in the extracurricular activities of your office makes work more enjoyable for you, as well as endears you more to your coworkers, who may work more productively with you as a result.

Not everyone is a natural socialite, but even if you are shy or new to the company, there are still ways to be a team player.  Ultimately, your coworkers will appreciate your efforts, and will reach out to you more as a result.

Time for a good ol’ group hug!

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News December 20: The Art of Office Gift Giving

Research Associate, New York, NY
Business Analyst, San Francisco, CA
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Holiday shopping for your loved ones can be hard enough, but trying to find the perfect gift for your boss or coworker can really add to your holiday stress.  Should you even get one in the first place?  And what’s appropriate?  Read on for some guidelines…

Understand the Office Policy

Offices can have some pretty complicated policies when it comes to gift giving.  After all, a company wants to avoid bribery or favoritism, and gifts around the holidays can get into some gray area.  Generally larger corporations are the ones that will have rules regarding what’s appropriate to give, so make sure you check before you stroll into the office with a toy sack slung over your shoulder.

Don’t Go Overboard

While you may be in a very giving mood this holiday season, it’s advisable not to go overboard with the gifts you pass out.  Organized office gift exchanges will generally have price limits in place, but if you’re going out on your own, don’t purchase anything that’s too extravagant or expensive.

Keep it Simple

Some good ideas for gifts include food baskets containing cookies, fruit, or candy – perfect for a coworker to share with his or her family.  You can also try exotic plants, or something that might be useful in the office.  Gift certificates are also a nice way to show your appreciation.  Yeah, all this stuff can seem boring and unoriginal, but you never know how another person’s taste might differ from yours, and it’s best to stay on the safe side.  You should avoid giving gifts that are tasteless or controversial, and stay away from giving clothes.  The bottom line here is to use your best judgment.  If you’re great friends with a coworker outside of the office, or have a really relaxed company culture, you probably have more latitude on gift options.

No Hurt Feelings

If you’re not going to be showering everyone in the office with presents, you probably shouldn’t make a big show of presenting a select few individuals with gift-wrapped goods.  Try to exchange gifts outside of the office or during after hours.  If this is impossible, do so discreetly.

Thanks and Come Again Next Year!

One final note – write a thank you note! It’s true that you don’t have to purchase something for every person who went out of his or her way to give you a gift, but you should remember to say thank you.  Writing a quick thank you note is a considerate gesture…and it locks you in to receive more cool stuff next holiday season!

Happy holidays,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News December 13: How to Make Nice (and Not Naughty) at the Office Holiday Party

Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
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It’s that time of year again.  Holiday cheer abounds, from the store discounts that start in October to… the infamous office holiday bash!  The office holiday party holds a warm spot in many a dutiful careerist’s heart – those who recall episodes of reckless inebriation, Yuletide meltdowns, or scandalous rounds of Spin the Dreidel.  Let’s face it: the combination of alcohol, holiday stress, and surly coworkers is a recipe for disaster.  That’s why you need to prepare yourself, and make sure you know how to behave beforehand!  Let’s discuss some ground rules:

Make Sure You Go

Thought you could avoid the pandemonium altogether?  Think again!  Skipping out on the office soiree is often perceived as a sign of disrespect.  Even though the invitation doesn’t always say it, assume that company gatherings usually fall under the “must attend” category – so blowing them off isn’t really an option.  Employers often spend big bucks putting these shindigs together.  Why?  To thrust you into precarious situations that could jeopardize your career?  Maybe some do.  But most like to celebrate in order to show their gratitude for all the work everyone has put in, and also to facilitate company bonding.  Take home point: don’t even think about home until you’ve put in at least a good 30 minutes of face time.

Putting the Office in Office Party

Remember:  even though an office holiday party is meant to be a social event, the professional context remains.  This means that your superiors are watching, ever mindful of who is behaving naughty and nice, and who’s going to get the nix, come Monday morning.  Limit yourself to a two-drink maximum if alcoholic beverages are available; or, better yet, don’t drink at all.  Pay attention to the part of the invitation that explains the dress code – formal or casual – and then dress more conservatively than you would normally; office holiday parties are no place for flagrant self-expression.  Finally, behave yourself.  No lewd behavior or forbidden office liaisons – there’s no sense in embarrassing yourself, or, worse yet, getting slapped with a sexual harassment complaint by HR.

Cocktail Conversation

We’ve already established that office conventions carry over into the after-hours office party, but that doesn’t mean that your cubicle chitchat has to also.  It’s okay to talk some business, but this is a social event.  Lighten up and broaden the conversation.  Otherwise, people will avoid talking to you and you’ll get pegged as uptight or boring.  Another mistake is to relax too much, and start complaining about your job, gossiping about coworkers, or discussing your pay.  Avoid any controversial subjects, especially those related to work.  Finally, branch out and talk to some people you don’t usually get to interact with during normal working hours.  Don’t forget that office parties can be a great chance to network, so don’t be afraid to engage with some of your superiors.

Holiday parties at the office can actually be a lot of fun, and bring out a more relaxed, fun side of the people you work with each day.  Just make sure to keep the obstreperous, party animal side of you in check!

Much love,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News October 18: How to Avoid an “Unhappy” Hour – Tips for the Office Happy Hour

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Who doesn’t like a good Happy Hour after a long day at the office?  It’s a wonderful chance to unwind, bond with coworkers, suck up to the boss, and drink on a Tuesday without feeling guilty.  But it can understandably lead to a few sticky situations, as do all instances that mix alcohol and coworkers.  To ensure that your innocent after hours mixer doesn’t devolve into an all-out bar brawl, make sure to follow these simple guidelines when partying with the office:

Eat Before You Go

Since Happy Hours take place late in the afternoon or early evening before dinner, chances are you’re going to be running on empty this far out from lunch.  So make sure to eat a snack at the office or grab something on the way to the bar so that you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach.  No one wants to be the coworker who blows Happy Hour all over the bar or gets plastered after one drink.

Pace Yourself

While it may be tempting to show off your drinking skills to the office or go head-to-head with Rob from Accounts Payable on shots, try to contain your enthusiasm and pace yourself.  Happy Hour is not a contest, and if you make it out to be one, you may find yourself the loser when it comes to your job.

Don’t Set the Tone for Gossip

It’s no fun waking up the morning after Happy Hour and cringing at something you said about a fellow employee who you’re going to be seeing in an hour.  So avoid this situation altogether by sticking to lighthearted topics at the bar.  That means not engaging in even well-intentioned gossip while you’re still lucid, because this will inevitably transform into career-damaging slander a few more drinks in.

Treat the Bar Like the Office

While the whole point of Happy Hour is to get away from the office, take a page from the rulebook on office etiquette at the bar.  Happy Hour with your coworkers isn’t the same as a night of debauchery with your closest buddies.  Sure, you can still have fun; but bear in mind that your most important relationship with these people is your professional relationship, and that you should act accordingly.

Select a Designated Driver

To ensure that you arrive back at work safe and sound the next morning, nominate someone as a designated driver.  This is a great option for someone who wants to tag along but doesn’t want to feel the pressure to drink.  This person can also help mediate any rowdy coworkers or stop them in their tracks before they do any damage to their careers.


Happy Hours are a fun pastime meant to take away some of the stress from the daily grind.  So don’t do yourself a disservice by adding more stress to your day from acting like a fool around your office mates.  Just do a little planning ahead, act sensibly, and the rest will follow.

The Doostang Team advises you to drink responsibly… and have a great day!

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Doostang News September 6: Tips for New Employees

Analyst, Boston, MA
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The first day jitters end pretty much with the first day on the job, and the nervousness you feel about being in a new place dissipates pretty quickly after that. It’s easy then to cut corners and fall into habits that you see around you – things that the seasoned veterans of the company do without blinking an eye. But even though you may have the same level of responsibility as your coworkers, there is still a certain etiquette that you must follow while you are new on the job. Consider these pointers:

Connect with Your Boss

While many of your coworkers may embark on projects or make decisions without running them by their superior, you should make sure to check in with your boss when you are doing these things. You may find out pretty quickly that your boss actually likes when the employees take initiative without being asked; but until you do, assume that you should keep your boss in the loop at all times. You might think that you’re making the correct decision on something, but you’re still new and you don’t know if your boss has certain policies on things or if there are exceptions to rules.

Don’t Get Distracted

You may find that you work in a very easygoing office environment when you show up on day one, but this does not mean that you should take as many liberties as you see your coworkers doing. These people have been with the company longer than you and they have proven their value over time. Without a track record to back you up, you may just look like you’re wasting time.

Stay Positive

Even though your coworkers will probably want to put on a good show for the “new guy”, you’ll oftentimes encounter complaining or gossiping. While you may be equally stressed out about showing up to work on a certain day, avoid broadcasting this to the rest of the office like some of your peers might be doing. Try to act graciously about being there, and make it a point to be friendly to everyone – even the people that get on your nerves from the very outset.

While all workers are created equal in an office environment, as the newbie, you don’t have equal right to get distracted, act negatively, or take off on your own. So focus on the work at hand and the office relationships you need to cultivate, and the rest will follow eventually.

Welcome to the club,

The Doostang Team

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Doostang News Feb 8: Be Mine, Valentine! Avoiding the Lusty Coworker

Hedge Fund Associate Analyst, New York, NY
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Bill in HR coming on too strong? Janice playing footsy under the desk? Yeee-up. We’ve all been there. Whether you underwent your first awkward dance of unrequited love in the third grade or your third year of college, you’ll notice that the rules of the game don’t change much from the sandbox to the cubicle. But hey! No need to suffer – Doostang’s here to spare every hopeless romantic a little heartache. Keep reading for a list of tactful approaches to the advances of your love-struck coworkers.

Remain Calm

This is not a drill! And matters of the heart are of the utmost delicacy. In one fell swoop you can shatter a person’s dignity. It’s fairly obvious that when someone musters up the courage to profess their feelings or ask you out on a date, that no matter what your response, you need to be kind. More than this, when you are in the workplace you need to act professionally. It may be tempting to gawk at someone’s audacity, but if you laugh in their face or come back with a snide reply, you’re going to make the situation far more uncomfortable for yourself and for that other person. Remember, you work with this individual, so chances are you’re going to see them on a daily basis. It’s no fun having to time your jaunts to the water cooler or painfully wait to use the restroom in order to avoid having a one-on-one with said individual…because …well because this is what you were trying to avoid in the first place, now wasn’t it?

Steer Clear of Gossip

Yeah, maybe it was funny when socially awkward Frank with the taped glasses strolled in, proposing a night out on the town. But unless Frank mentioned a party bus, don’t go sharing the news with all of your office buddies. Doing so is disrespectful to that other person and has the potential to start nasty rumors. The workplace is a very small world, and things have a way of getting back to other people. Gossip is never a safe bet, and, more than this, it’s just plain unprofessional.

Seek Assistance

A little unsolicited flirting can be endearing sometimes, but when Cupid is launching an all out barrage of heart-shaped arrows your way, it may be time to take matters to a higher power. If you have already conveyed to a coworker that you are not interested and they still won’t take a hint, or, worse yet, begin treating you disrespectfully, you have every right to talk to a manager or Human Resources representative. Companies take sexual harassment very seriously, and you should report it the moment it becomes an issue.

Be Honest

While not necessarily a token of advice specific to the workplace, the golden rule of honesty is generally a good one to live by in any scenario. Picture this: Barbara approaches you outside the office kitchenette, asking if you’re free to join her for pizza Friday night. Don’t fib and tell her that you already have a girlfriend or you’re allergic to pizza, because when the GF fails to show up to company soirees time and again or you have to opt out of office pizza parties, you’re going to feel like a fool. Have the sense to tell the truth. How about, “You know, I’m really not looking to date anyone right now, I’m focused on my work.” Or maybe drop a hint like, “I’m not sure that Friday will work for me, but maybe you can come along with me and some of the guys in the office to grab pizza at lunch.” People will respect and appreciate you much more in the long run if you respect them enough to tell the truth.

Matters of the heart are tricky. And matters of the heart mixed with matters in the workplace can turn sour very quickly. So keep it sweet this Valentine’s Day, and implement a little tact into your office romance routine.

Love,

Your Secret Admirer (The Doostang Team!)

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