20 Tips For Your First Job

Six months ago, I tweeted a list of 20 tips for people starting their first job that day (June 1st). The list was partly or fully re-posted all across the web, but people keep asking me for a link to the tips. So I guess I should post them here on my own blog as well. :)

  1. Write down everything you do, and be prepared to show it to your manager if ever asked “so what have you done this month?”
  2. A job is not a competition, no matter what you may have heard. Your coworkers are on your team, as is your manager.
  3. This is not school/college. You won’t lose marks because you don’t know something. You WILL if you don’t say so!
  4. Don’t be afraid of stating an opinion – be afraid of NOT stating one. You could be wrong, but won’t know if you don’t pipe up!
  5. Employers aren’t really looking for a bunch of yes-(wo)men. But they aren’t looking for a bunch of revolutionaries, either.
  6. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you are young. You will thank me for this advice.
  7. Dare to look beyond your given assignment. “Good enough” never is.
  8. Take criticism of your work as a compliment – your work got noticed! Now fine-tune it to get it right.
  9. If you thought that everything you learnt in college was irrelevant, you are about to get a wakeup call. Never stop learning.
  10. Smile. It makes everything better, every job easier, every person nicer, everyone around you happier. (I never learnt this)
  11. Despite what it feel like, no one (manager, co-worker) is out to get you. If you perform well, everyone wins.
  12. Being better than others doesn’t get you a promotion or a raise. Helping the team to be as good as you, however, does.
  13. There is no tip #13.
  14. Listen. Carefully. Ask questions – the only stupid question is the one you DON’T ask.
  15. It’s always about the team, the work and the organisation – never about you. (I learnt this when it was almost too late).
  16. If you find yourself with no assigned task, either ask for one, or go looking for stuff you can do.
  17. Dress sensibly. Torn jeans and crazy tshirts may seem hep, but lets down your organisation’s image.
  18. Personal hygiene is important. Bathe, brush, shave (if appropriate). Carry & use a comb. People notice & appreciate neatness.
  19. If you see something that needs doing, DO IT! If you see someone doing something that needed doing, pitch in and help!
  20. Enjoy yourself and your work. If you don’t, find out why, and fix it. You will have only one first job in your life – make it count.

While you may ignore all my tips for your first job – don’t ever skip breakfast.

And remember: your parents brought you up to be able to see this day, to see you spread your wings and fly. This is our reward. :)

A few people got back to me asking if I could expand the list – maybe some day, if there is sufficient interest, I will do a follow-up post.


  1. Swanand Purankar says:

    Very useful…. I insist every fresher in my company to read this article after induction :)

  2. I really need to counter a few of these based on personal experience.

    #2. A job is not a competition, but not all of your coworkers know this. Be careful of those who think it is a competition because they are in fact out to get you (#11). This is especially true if you’re both vying for the same post, eg, two temp workers trying to get a single perm position.

    Also, due to Relative Peer Ranking (RPR), raises and promotions are given to people who perform better than their peers in the same team. This has the unfortunate side effect of making some people bad mouth you just so that you don’t get the top spot. You’d better hope that your manager can tell the difference. Unfortunately, there are managers who can’t.

    Definite +1 for 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 16, 19 and 20, and +2 for 6.

  3. ashish tripathi says:

    I love this article

  4. Nitesh Garg says:

    I agree with you about the breakfast thing. Rest of the tips seem to be useful. I hope, I will implement these… :)

  5. manoj thakkar says:

    very helpful ….
    Thanks … :)

  6. Kaushik Saha says:

    I found your 20 tips useful though some points were not very new.

    Although some points are old, it is always good to read and try to implement these tips on one’s first job or other aspects of one’s life.

    It would be good if you could add some more useful and insightful tips :-)