First job

Congratulations! You’ve landed your first real job after graduating from college, and you’re looking forward to what’s in store for you.  A new organization, a new boss, and probably a new wardrobe – no doubt, it IS an exciting time in your life.

According to a May 17th article in CNBC.com, 2016 is “the hottest job market in years for the expected 1.9 million students who will graduate”.  Really?  Who knew?

When I read the article, I was pleasantly surprised by the positive outlook taken from a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.  Indeed, this is very good news for college grads particularly if you majored in accounting, engineering, computer science or business, the most in-demand fields.

Although your degree and GPA played an integral part in your getting hired, now the opportunities afforded to you for participation in high visibility projects and promotions will be considered to a large extent by how well you get along with others.  This is why networking is going to be vitally important to your success.  That said, here are 7 networking and career tips to help you get started on the right foot as you begin your new job.

Think back to when you started kindergarten, and apply similar advice that your mom, dad, grandparents, or some other significant adult figure in your life gave you about how to behave that first day of school.  Notice the similarities:

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1. When you walk through the door at your new job, smile when you cross paths with others. It makes you appear approachable, and you never know who the person might be that is walking in your direction. That person could be a peer, another manager, or perhaps the head of your office.

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  • When you were in kindergarten and smiled as you walked into the school, you might have crossed paths with a new classmate from another homeroom, another teacher, or maybe even the principal.

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2. Reach out to your co-workers and learn about them, i.e., how long they’ve been there, what they enjoy most about their work, and what they enjoy doing outside of work.

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  • When you were in kindergarten, it was about asking one of your classmates to sit with you at lunch or play with you during recess.

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3. Volunteer to help with a cause supported by your organization as this is a great way to meet employees from other departments and develop relationships with co-workers.  It also demonstrates initiative on your part to get involved and be a contributing member of your organization.

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  • When you were in kindergarten, it might have been letting your teacher know that you could help her pass out papers or take the attendance to the office.

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4. When you hear others in the break room or kitchen talking about a rumor that’s going around the office, refrain from repeating and/or Instant Messaging another co-worker to ask what they’ve heard about that rumor as this will begin to brand you as an “office gossip”.

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  • When you were in kindergarten, you probably played the gossip game and found out how a message can be distorted and even hurtful when you whisper something you heard.

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5. When your boss talks to you, put away your smartphone, and look at him or her in the eye, listen closely, and ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand what he or she is saying.

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  • When you were in kindergarten, you might have been daydreaming in class and didn’t realize your teacher was instructing you to get your parents to sign your paper that night and turn it back into the teacher the next morning.

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6. Arrive at your job fifteen to thirty minutes before your official start time each day so that you can get coffee and settle in before you are “on the clock” so to speak.

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  • When you were in kindergarten, getting to school a few minutes before the bell rang gave you time to get seated in your desk and get your books, paper, and pencil ready.

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7. At the end of your work day and before you leave the office to go to the gym, happy hour, or home, look at your calendar for the next day to see what is on your schedule, i.e. a meeting, training, or perhaps a presentation.  This will help you plan your work activities, plan what to wear, and determine when you should be in bed to get a good night’s rest.

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  • When you were in kindergarten and the dismissal bell rang, before you left your homeroom, you had to gather your homework assignment, your books, and any papers your parents need to sign to turn in the next day.

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It’s pretty amazing how there are many parallels between starting your first job and starting kindergarten. Keep in mind that the advice given to you when you first started school was to help you establish a foundation for success in school and in life. It was to help you create good habits from the beginning and learn to practice them so that they would become second nature.  The same holds true with these tips, and I wish you the very best as you hit the ground running.

To your success!

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