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