Whether it’s your first professional job as a new graduate or a part-time, on-campus job while you’re still in school, it is critical to your success to get started on the right foot. The following tips can help you to excel and avoid some of the common pitfalls of being the “new kid on the block.”
- Be a dependable employee! Dependability can be demonstrated in many ways. For example, don’t forget to call if you’re sick or going to arrive late. This lets your supervisor know your job is important to you.
- Plan to work hard and do more than is expected. Avoid “it’s not my job” thinking. Take the initiative and ask for additional assignments once you’ve completed yours.
- Establish mutually agreed upon goals with your supervisors. Determine what is expected of you from the very beginning. This includes developing clear deadlines for your projects.
- Keep your supervisor informed of your progress and ask for regular feedback on your performance. If any assignments are unclear, ask for clarification instead of proceeding in the wrong direction because you are fearful of looking foolish.
- Learn the “corporate culture” of your organization and be willing to adapt to it. Organizations expect their employees to “fit in” and accept the corporate culture. If you don’t understand it, you are more likely to make errors in political etiquette that can hurt your progress. For example, even though your supervisor told you the official starting time is 8:00am, when do most of the staff arrive and begin working? How do you learn what the culture is? Observe coworker’s behaviors and when in doubt, ask questions.
- Develop and utilize strong interpersonal communication skills, including both oral and written communication. Every job, including technical ones, will require some degree of personal interaction. You can demonstrate your people skills in a number of ways. Look for opportunities to make oral presentations and written reports and do them conscientiously and carefully, soliciting advice and help from others. Learn to listen carefully to be sure you fully understand instructions or requests. Demonstrate patience and sensitivity with others, avoiding public confrontations or complaining. Learn the art of tact when working on a team, which includes being receptive to others’ input and knowing when to compromise. With written work, be sure you’ve proofread it carefully for content, spelling and grammar before submitting it.
- Another aspect of good communication skills is developing relationships with your coworkers. Get to know and be known by others in your work environment … your professional growth depends on it. Get out of your office and network with key people. A friendly attitude can also help you tap into your organization’s “grapevine.” Of course, this relationship building does not mean socializing the hours away at the expense of job duties.
- Speaking of duties, master your job tasks. If you’re going to move up, you have to prove you understand and can accomplish the basic requirements of your job first.
- Be assertive, self-confident and visible. Remember the three “E’s”- enthusiasm, energy and excellence. These qualities make a positive impression with employers and coworkers and will serve you well in the future.
- As with your organization’s culture, be aware of its politics and who has the power (both officially and unofficially) to make things happen. As a newcomer, try to avoid “playing politics” before you know the ropes. Also, maintain confidentiality and avoid gossip – it can be destructive and puts you in a bad light.
Finally, the key to a successful transition into your new job is to take the initiative and do the best you can, regardless of whether it is a temporary position or a professional job in your chosen field. It is your chance to learn, contribute and develop skills and behaviors you’ll use throughout your career.Top 10 Tips for Succeeding at a New Job by Harrison Barnes