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Politics, drama, stress, brutal bosses, crazy co-workers, sandwich theft…The working world can be a perilous place—even if you work from home. We’re here today with some sound job advice for younger folks figuring out how to get ahead at the office, and how to make the most of out of every job.

Build Relationships

So much of work is about who you’re working with. Odds are if you have a good rapport with your colleagues, you’ll like your job—even if it’s not your ideal occupation. On the flip side, just one sour relationship can quickly turn any job into a nightmare.

Which is why it’s important to proactively build relationships with your colleagues. Take steps to give respect, and toearn it. Make an effort to go to lunch with people, or take walks on breaks. If you telecommute, send your co-workers a personal message every now and again to see how they’re doing.

If you have a tendency to keep to yourself, that’s fine, but introverts may need to assert themselves in other ways to promote their work. Don’t disconnect to the point you miss the signs that someone might be plotting your imminent demise.

In a perfect world, all people at work would be treated equally and objectively based on competence, but ‘office politics’ often result in personalities being favored over quality.

Building genuine relationships with your colleagues can make your work life a pleasure, and it also may insulate you from the dreaded layoff list.

Learn How to Do Things, Track Results, and Fill the Gaps

Try to be a sponge early in your career. An observant sponge. Listen, learn, and seek job advice from more experienced people. Find a mentor! Learn what skills are valued around your particular office, and take special note of areas where you’re shorthanded.

A great way to make yourself indispensable is to step up and meet a need that your boss stresses about. Obviously it’s important to do your specific job and do it well, but it never hurts to go above and beyond the call of duty. Unless of course you do it in an obnoxious, show-offy way, which results in your unceremonious termination. That would definitely hurt.

Try to strike a balance between being a go-getter and a brownnose as you jump in to fill your gaps.

Early on in your career is also an important time to learn new skills. You may not be in the role you envision right now, but in the meantime you can be learning new tricks to add to your tool belt. There are loads of online places where you can gain valuable knowledge to beef up your resume and keep your mind sharp.

All the while, identify a set of tangible metrics that are deemed important in your workplace. Track your results so you have measurable proof of what you’re bringing to the table.

The Best Job Advice

The most important thing to realize about work and our careers, the most critical job advice, is that nothing is for certain. Who knows what tomorrow will bring or how long you’ll be able to work? An untimely accident, illness, or firing can throw your life into chaos.

Which is why disability insurance is so important to have. Disability insurance can protect your income and your most valuable assets (like your ability to work). These are things we all need to protect—at any age.