So you’ve got your very first full-time job – well done. I hope you’ve got aims and ideas about where you would like this job to take you in your career. We all need something bigger than ourselves / this week / now to aim at. At the same time, you will need to demonstrate – starting now – that you can nail the basics.
It’s astonishing how many people in your shoes will be dreaming about their next two promotions when what they need to focus on is doing some really simple stuff well. Screw up the basics and you’ll be lucky to make it through probation, let alone promotion. But try too hard too often and you could get overwhelmed. At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, here’s 10 tips to help you thrive and get off to a great start.
- Write. Stuff. Down. Making notes can seem a quaint notion to some, but you really need to write things down. Highlight actions – what needs to happen (and why), who’s doing it and when it’s needed by. Another smart thing to write and keep adding to is a glossary of the jargon you hear and see around the place – you’ll be expected to know what it all means sooner than you think.
- Agree priorities with your manager and work to them. Focus on outcomes that will add the most value to your performance and that of your team. Take 10-15 minutes at the end of each day to ensure you have the right priorities for tomorrow.
- Beware ‘busyness’. Check you’re staying on track and develop the habit of asking yourself: ‘Is this the best use of my time right now?’ Don’t get side-tracked spending too long doing emails – they’re merely a tool for the job, not the job itself. Don’t allow routine tasks to take longer than they should. If the task is only worth ten minutes, get it done in ten minutes.
- Be proactive with your boss and respect their time. Note questions you have for your manager and build up a prioritised list. Come up with your thoughts, answers and solutions for each question. Only then should you go through your list with your manager at a scheduled time rather than bugging them as each question occurs to you.
- Develop checklists for recurring tasks. This will a) help you avoid that oh-so-irritating habit of having to be taught the same thing several times over, b) add a valuable resource to the team and, c) help you delegate to the newbie who follows you.
- Give the heads up. If something is going off the rails, involve your manager sooner rather than later, being crystal clear on what’s happened and your suggestions for getting things back on track.
- Do your homework. Stay up to date with what’s going on for your employer and their stakeholders, such as clients and end users. Find out what resources colleagues use to stay informed and sign up.
- Stay in touch. A new job can be all-consuming, particularly if you’re just starting your career. You may find yourself forming new friendships, socialising with colleagues and before you’ve realised it, losing touch with family and long-standing friends. Make the effort to keep in touch with the people who’ve been there for you in bad times and good.
- Look after yourself. Starting out in a new job can be stressful; there’s lots to learn, fast. Things may be done differently, the workplace culture may be challenging, your confidence may take a knock – and your wellbeing may suffer. Look after your physiological and psychological needs: good rest, good nutrition and good exercise as well as the company of those you care for – and who care for you. Responsible workplaces have resources for this – use them.
- Look after your peers and watch out for each other. Those new friendships you’re forming can be a vital support when times get tough. You might be the friend that another new joiner turns to when they’re struggling.
You may find this blog post useful: ‘Should you get a mentor?’
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Woirkers running to job – @ Creatarka – Deposit Photos