17 Tips on What to Do and Not to Do On your First Job
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Sue Greener, Tom Bourner and Asher Rospigliosi from www.bookboon.com
Congratulations, you have landed your first job after graduation. This is an important step, but do you really know what it means to start a new job? Here you can find a few tips for what to do and not to do during your first days in a new job. Good luck!
- Try to bring solutions rather than problems. Your boss will already have plenty of problems and probably enough people to bring more. You will get noticed if you seem to be looking for solutions or providing them.
- Try to understand what is important to them. A good way to do this is to ask them. Then you can look for ways to assist.
- The biggest mistake you can make is to never make a mistake. The new graduate in a new job can view a mistake as a disaster, while the person who never made a mistake, never made anything. The worst mistake you can make is to be so risk-averse that there is no possibility that you will ever make a mistake. View mistakes as pitfalls form which you can learn. Consequently, distil all the learning you can from each mistake.
- Take responsibility for outcomes. Don’t hide from responsibility behind the fact that you are the newest or youngest employee where you work. The sooner you learn to take personal responsibility, the quicker you will become a respected and mature professional.
- Be careful in your written communications, particularly the less formal ones, such as memos and emails. These provide lasting evidence of your maturity and your professionalism.
- Find yourself a mentor. If this is a job in which you intend to stay long enough to seek advancement, then seek a mentor in your organisation or industry. Seek advice from someone who has succeeded, so they can help you to succeed. Check whether your organisation has a mentoring scheme. Some professional bodies offer mentoring schemes so it is well worth checking that out too. Otherwise, use informal ways to find a mentor. People are more likely to be willing to act as a mentor than you think, because most people like having someone to look up to them. It is flattering to be asked to be a mentor; it is pleasant having someone listen attentively to your advice, and it is also pleasant to be able to share lessons from your own experience.
- Recognise the importance of interpersonal relations. Most students study, complete assignments and are assessed on the basis of individual work during school, college and university. Most work within employing organisations is done in a group or departmental setting. Indeed, the essence of organisation is to combine the contributions of individuals to realise joint outcomes. Hence, learning to get on with colleagues is essential.
- Recognise the importance of teamwork. An employing organisation is a way of combining the work of groups and of individuals. Your contribution to the organisation will be assessed by your contribution to your group at work. A fruitful attitude to teamworking is to see the problems of other people in your group, as your problems.
- Develop your network. Your current employing organisation is unlikely to be the last organisation that employs you. Most jobs are obtained by personal contacts and networks (in the USA it is about 65%). Places you can network include alumnus groups, on-line groups, professional bodies, and trade associations.
- Network within your own organisation. Access to interesting work as well as promotions depends on who you know as well as what you know. Make contacts within your current organisation.
- Build goodwill. People will be much happier to help you if they see you as someone who will help them. If you help other people in your organisation, you will develop a network of people who are likely to think of how they can help you when the opportunity arises.
- Staying in touch. Networking is not just about making contacts; it is also about building relationships with these contacts. Develop a system for keeping in touch with your contacts.
- Avoid burning your bridges with anyone. It is a small world, so keep your enemies to the minimum.
- Develop yourself. In the best of all possible worlds, your employing organisation will recognise your worth and realise the importance of developing your potential. If not, you need to do the job yourself. A good place to start is to work out a development plan for yourself, even if it is very provisional and subject to amendment in the light of emerging circumstances.
- It is never too soon to begin thinking about where your present job will lead you. What are the options for your next move? Which options look most promising?
- Look for as many learning opportunities as possible. What training or development is needed to arrive at where you want to go next? Are there courses on offer which could build your CV in the direction you want to go? How can you make the most of informal learning, particularly about the particular sector in which you are now working?
- Look for a niche to make your own. If you have an area of specialisation within an organisation or an industry this can be a valuable source of comparative advantage. It is even better if you can find an area of specialisation that will be in more demand in the future.
There are many other aspects to consider when starting a new job. But you can start by keeping these 17 tips in mind.
If you are keen on learning more about your first job and what employers are looking for when recruiting, you can take a look at the book “Graduate Employment” published by the eBook publisher bookboon.com.
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