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Congratulations on getting your first job! This is a BIG accomplishment!
After all the work you’ve put in to get the interview and ace the interview, let’s make sure you succeed in your first job! So below are some general (but VERY important) tips to succeed at your first job. These are of course on top of the specific tasks and responsibilities you have to do for your job.
5 Tips to succeed at your first job
No one is your friend
This one may sound bitter – but it’s a harsh reality. This might even be a lesson you need to learn the hard way.
Your colleagues are not your friends. They are your coworkers. Even worse, they can be your direct competitors. They may seem like friends to you, but they are looking out for themselves. And you should be too!
Your boss is not your friend.
I don’t care how down to earth and cool he/she may want to appear. He/She is your boss. I’m not saying to never be personable with your boss. Be a good conversationalist! But keep it superficial.
Always remain professional and at a healthy distance.
Do not gossip about others. Do not reveal your true feelings about someone/something if it is negative. Do not divulge intimate details about your personal life.
This is your first job and this is work. The business and work will always come before you and your “friendships” with your colleagues and boss.
Human Resources is not your friend
In continuing with the theme of tip #1, remember in your first job that HR is not your friend.
HR is there to protect the company. I repeat, HR is there to protect the company. They are NOT there for YOU.
If you are unhappy about an issue/colleague/boss/the company, do not expect HR to fix it for you.
If you must let HR know, make sure you document EVERYTHING. Have your own records. If the issue is big enough, have your own lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer is your friend.
Optics are important
Your image is important.
Especially at your first job where you have a clean slate for your reputation. You want to be an easy going, likable person that people go to and can count on.
Forming a bad image for yourself in your first job can follow you to future jobs. Also, it is VERY hard to change your image. So start off well!
If your work allows you to work from home, come in the office once in a while. You need to be present. If your work allows flexible work hours, do not take advantage of this benefit. Do not work from home every opportunity you get.
Participate in work events!
If there are happy hour events or holiday parties, make sure you attend. Attend as many things as possible.
I know there are so many ways you would rather spend your time. You already spend 8 hours a day with these people and I’m telling you to spend more.
But trust me, optics are important for you to be successful at your first job. Again, you need to be present!
Look like a hard worker
In line with optics is looking like a hard worker.
I’m not saying don’t actually be a hard worker. But sometimes looking like a hard worker is more important than being a hard worker.
If you are very efficient and can finish you work load, do not lounge around for the rest of the day. The image you will portray is that of a lazy person, even though you’ve finished all your work! And remember, image is hard to change!
Either spread your work out to last the day, or ask for more work.
Even better, ask a colleague if you can help them with something! This will win you favors with your teammates and you’ll also be a team player. And look at that – being a team player is the last tip!
Be a team player
This last point again ties into optics. You need to be a team player.
Even if you have to fake it. If there is a new protocol in place that makes no sense or your boss wants you to fix something you don’t agree with, DO NOT voice your dissent.
Again, you need to be a team player. One of the best tips I’ve ever been given from a mentor was “Smile and nod” – and trust me, I do this often.
I’m not saying don’t ever voice your opinions. Of course voice your opinions! How else are you going to demonstrate your capabilities for that promotion 😊.
BUT only voice your opinions in a positive manner. Voice your opinions when you ideas to contribute.
Another reason to be a team player is so your colleagues will want to collaborate with you and involve you in their projects. This just gives you more opportunities to shine to management.
You want to be someone people want to work with.
Your first job is an opportunity for you to build a good image and reputation for yourself with your boss and your colleagues. You want to have a good network that you can rely on when you want to switch jobs.
Your colleagues can also switch jobs or companies in their careers, which just expands your network to different companies. So make sure you build a good reputation in your first job!