Surviving Your First Real Job

Alex Kecskes
Posted by in Technology

You passed the gauntlet of HR interviews, group interviews, and department head interviews, and you finally landed your first “real” job. You know this will be different than the summer jobs and internships you had thus far. These days, employers expect you to pretty much hit the ground running, to use your degree and the innate smarts you demonstrated during your interviews. There’s a lot riding on this one. It can make or break you. Here’s what you need to do to make a good impression.

Learn and Leverage Your Orientation

Most companies have an orientation (or onboarding) period where you’re introduced to the company culture, some key players above your pay grade, below your pay grade and fellow peers. Show an interest in everyone you meet. Remember names, titles and where they’re physically located. Jot all this down if you have to. Small companies will simply hand you a binder of stuff to orient you to everything. Read it and make notes about meetings, work policies and procedures that affect you. Large companies will have you attend orientation meetings where you’ll join other new hires watching videos about company policies, procedures and products/services. Take notes on things that affect you. Talk to your fellow new hires and note anyone who will be working in your group or division. Connect with them via phone and email. To get an idea of what to expect in a new employee orientation, check out this JL Gray companies video.

Ask Questions Now, Not Later

People will expect you to ask questions during your first few weeks on the job. Better to do this now than in 6 months when you’ll be expected to know everything. How you complete your first assignment or task will be crucial. A smart supervisor or manager will give you something small and relatively unimportant to see how you perform. Take your time—unless you’re on a tight deadline—and do this job to the absolute best of your ability. Regard it as super important, even if it seems like busy work or grunt work. It’s a test and people will be watching. When you’ve completed you assignment, ask your supervisor for feedback. It shows you care and that you’re eager to improve. Listen to everything he or she says. Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg, authors of Effective Immediately, note that you’ll be sized up on things like how well you communicate with peers and subordinates, your various people skills, and if you demonstrate some level of confidence and charisma.

Prioritize Work, Use Tools

Some companies will start you off with lots of small tasks. This too is a test. Your supervisor may want to see how you can multitask and prioritize work. So map out a prioritized schedule and post it on your cubicle wall.  Let your supervisor and others know that you can schedule tasks, complete with deadlines and milestones. If you have any questions, ask. If your supervisor needs progress reports, provide them. Show where you are and where you’re headed. Whenever you meet with your supervisor, ask if priorities have changed, or if some tasks have changed in some way. Things do have a habit of changing with time. Mind Tools has a host of prioritization tools you can familiarize yourself with. Some companies may even be using them.

Want to survive your first real job? Network, ask, learn, and prioritize. And don’t get stressed out.

 

Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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