Every budding professional or recent college graduate knows the feeling: It’s time to get a job that matters; in other words, one that will help poise you for your long-term career goals.
While current prospects for young job seekers are considerably more promising than they were ten years ago, it’s not uncommon for your first post-graduation job to serve as more of stepping stone rather than a long-term move toward your ultimate career choice. So, whether you are newly graduated or looking to take that important second step in your career, what is most important is that you are actively working toward your professional goals.
In either scenario — although your degree may have equipped you with the basic knowledge needed for success — the reality is that you will continue to develop your skills set in new and more practical ways once you enter and establish yourself in your chosen industry.
“A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.; Former Associate Justice U.S. Supreme Court
Perhaps you feel confident and prepared for today’s employment environment, or maybe you’re somewhat intimidated by what you see. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to heed some helpful advice.
While every job is different and each industry has its own unique challenges, the following tips will help get you started on a path towards job prosperity and career accomplishments.
1. Demonstrate confidence. Remember that you’ve earned the job you have. Refrain from entertaining the notion that you don’t deserve to be there or that you’re not up to the tasks with which you are faced. Building and exuding confidence will not only make you feel better in your new role, but will also demonstrate to your co-workers and managers that you are fully capable of meeting expectations, thereby earning their respect.
2. Be a self-starter. While you can always ask for some clarification or guidance, you should also demonstrate your ability to work independently. You may have had an internship at one point where you were closely watched and guided; however, you should not expect this level of vigilance after you have officially entered the job market. Remember that you are expected to complete tasks fully and on-time without continuous prompting. If you would like feedback, you may have to seek that out yourself.
3. Voice your opinion. Although you may be new at a company, you should still trust that your opinion is valued. The more you diplomatically voice your assessments and engage in useful discussion, the more likely others are to listen to and take your observations into consideration. If you learn to express your ideas for innovation by sharing specific design methods and even highlighting potential problems, then you will certainly be noticed in a positive light.
4. Support your co-workers. Encouraging and supporting your co-workers will allow you to build strong bonds with them, ultimately contributing to positive team morale. If you’re so inclined, this could even lead to meaningful friendships outside of the workplace. Generally, if a co-worker is facing a difficult circumstance, lending a non-biased ear of support can be most welcome. In fact, you may even find yourself on the other side of a good deed, as time goes on. Additionally, should you seek a new employment opportunity in the future, remember that your current co-workers are your future network and potential sources of reference.
5. Be punctual. While it should go without saying, punctuality is of utmost importance in the professional world. This applies not only to being on time each morning, but to deadlines as well as being present and ready when you get to work every day. It also means responding to emails and phone messages in a timely and efficient manner. Waiting too long to respond can appear negligent and may even prevent others from properly doing their job. While you may not be outwardly commended for punctuality, it will be noticed if you are consistently late with your responsibilities.
6. Maintain professionalism. Although you may have been able to get away with attending class visibly disheveled, it’s never a good idea to do this in the workplace. Dressing professionally and appropriately for your work environment is a must. However, true professionalism is not just limited to appearance; it also extends to how you present yourself to your coworkers and superiors via your words and actions. You may not always feel a strong affinity with every individual in your workplace, but you should always act respectfully in order to maintain a healthy working relationship.
7. Stay positive. While it’s normal to experience some doubts and difficulties on the job, remember that each day you are growing and developing into the type of employee you’ve always wanted to be. It is this sentiment which should help you stay positive, and even have fun in your job while you do your best to benefit from the challenges that you face.
8. Continue to grow and learn. Just because you’ve completed your formal education does not mean that you have finished learning. Your first (and even your second) job following graduation is a huge period of growth and positive transformation. Take this opportunity to ask engaging questions, take on new tasks, develop skills, and learn better ways to manage your workload. The more you embrace this period of time, the more expertise you will gain.
9. Remember to have fun. Attend events or go out to dinner with your friends and/or co-workers. Join outside organizations or clubs. Whatever, you do, be sure to make time for yourself. While building your career should be at the top of your priority list, be sure you are also setting aside some downtime where you can be yourself and “de-stress”. Maintaining a healthy, yet responsible life outside the workplace will allow you to better engage when you return.
While any new job – especially one of the first you’ve landed in your field — can present elements of pressure, there are certain tactics that can help make your journey easier. Maintaining your confidence and professionalism, remaining open to new learning opportunities, and keeping a positive attitude are all equally important factors toward your long-term success.
“The only way to do good work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs
Stewart, Cooper & Coon offers an array of career services to both individuals and corporations. Our staff is dedicated to our clients’ success via innovative job search processes, employment management strategies, and state-of-the-art technologies. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200