Starting your first job is a really big deal. It doesn’t matter if you’ve planned your perfect first-day outfit, packed a healthy lunch and know the fastest route to work: chances are you’re going to have to get to grips with a really steep learning curve. (Especially if you run into the Scary Finance Guy the moment you walk through the door…) And yes: this counts even if you’ve just received your sparkly new diploma or degree or certificate or qualification. You don’t know what you’re doing yet, and until you do, you might have to fake it until you make it. Bumps in the road are inevitable: but they’re not the end of the world. Here’s how you can learn the art of becoming job fit
Don’t be hasty
Nobody expects you to know everything on the first day. In fact, PLEASE don’t be a know-it-all on your first day. The first three months will be a whirlwind of new experiences, getting to know the company and your team, surviving the new environment, and figuring out what your role will be. Your new boss will probably test you a bit, too, to figure out what kind of challenges you can deal with, and how you go about solving problems. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: in fact, ask loads, and learn as much as you can about this place you’ll now be spending loads of time at (TIP: keep a notebook on hand, that way you don't ask the same question over and over, because it's easy to forget). Gathering information will help you develop a plan for becoming your best self at work.
You're probably cleaning the stables, first...
Don’t freak out and give up
Yes, you WILL get tired, and you WILL feel really down sometimes. All of us do when we start working: it’s just so different and exhausting (and the office aircon is designed to mush your brain), and it’s normal to doubt yourself and the choices you made or will make. Starting work is hard, and can have a real impact on your physical body and emotional health. Usually, if you make time for hanging out with friends, exercising, getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods, you’ll find your rhythm. But sometimes, you might really struggle and even experience anxiety or loneliness at work – that’s when it’s really important to ask for help. You are NOT weak, and it will get better.
Take a step back…
…and see how far you’ve already come. You’ve worked really hard to get to the point of being gainfully employed, managing to overcome obstacles such as deciding on a career, searching for jobs, actually landing an interview, getting the job offer: and that’s a really big deal.
So take some time to be proud of yourself: you’ve made it this far, and you’re definitely going places! Be hopeful.
Feel like you need a change? Try our free Career Quiz to discover what other career options you can consider. Click below to start!
Talk to people
When the going gets really tough, talk to people who’ve been through the same thing. That would be adults who’ve been working for a while: your parents, your friends, your family members… Ask them to share what it was like for them, and which approaches helped them overcome their challenges at work. It might also help to speak to adults from different generations to you (Gen X, Boomers, even older Millennials) – they can tell you how they see “young people today”, and give you some insight as to how to get older colleagues on your side.
Listen to Shia.
Develop your soft skills
There are some universal soft skills that all of us need to make a success of our jobs – and they’re becoming seriously important as AI and technological developments change the world of work. Work hard to start developing these skills, way before you’re even thinking of getting a job, and you’ll go a long way to get future ready
- Communication skills. Learn how to actively listen, follow instructions, articulate your thoughts well and speak clearly and confidently to others. Carry a notebook when you start working and make notes of what people tell you to help you remember important details and instructions. Learn more about how to find your voice here.
- Teamwork. Yeah, you don’t have to like everybody (and you probably won’t). And some of us don’t like anybody at all! But teamwork and being able to collaborate with your colleagues is really important. Develop techniques to deal with conflict and differing opinions, learn how to express yourself and try to see the bigger picture of what you’re involved in. See it as a surefire way of keeping the robots from taking over, and it should be easier.
- Managing conflict. You WILL butt heads with someone: your boss, a colleague, a rival… That’s normal. But it’s how you deal with conflict that will influence whether you grow in your career or end up sidelined. It’s important to build respectful relationships with your colleagues – even the ones you don’t like. If you’re not sure how to manage conflict, check out our advice to deal with difficult conversations here.
- Problem-solving approach. You’ll need a can-do attitude to survive in the future workplace: try to develop a mindset where challenges don’t stump you, but rather fire you up to find solutions. It’s okay to ask for help with this, and as you grow in your job, you’ll get better at learning problem-solving techniques, too.
- Time Management. Get organised, people: try to be neat and tidy, create To Do-lists, learn how to prioritise tasks. You’re going to have to get a lot of work done, and you’ll probably have deadlines, so it’s best to keep on top of your workload as much as you can. This might take a while, especially if your natural tendency is to create a desk that looks like an explosion in a confetti factory. But at least try: it can make your life a lot easier. (Your bedroom can remain chaotic.)
- Manage your Personal Brand. This is all about how you look and act. Make an effort to dress in a clean, neat and work-appropriate way, be on time, be trustworthy, be careful about how you use social media (employers do check these things), and put your phone away if it’s not crucial to your job.
Need general reassurance on your job fitness? Yup, you guessed it: try the Job Fit Test below!
Main image by Johnson Wang on Unsplash
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