Ten Rules of Engagement When You Start Your First Professional Job
Your first few years on the job will set the tone of your early career and can jump-start the next few decades of growth and achievement in the workplace. Here’s what it takes to make the most of your first job.
Be a sponge. Take the time to learn everything you can about the company, its products and services, clients and customers, and how to navigate the professional world. Absorb, reflect and learn.
Be hungry. The people who really move up fastest are those who show their willingness to do whatever it takes. Senior leaders look for employees who are eager to go the extra mile. And you’ll never get ahead waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Saying “nobody asked me to do this” is a guaranteed recipe for failure. Err on the side of doing too much, not too little.
Be concise. When getting your point across—whether in an email, presentation or simply talking with your manager—be as brief as possible. In addition, strong communicators listen more than they talk. Earn a reputation as someone who pays attention and gets things right the first time.
Be a relationship builder. Take time to build connections with your boss, co-workers and staff. Networking inside the company is vital to getting promoted and growing professionally in any organization.
Pick up the phone. Don’t hide behind your computer. Business is personal; it gets done on the phone and in person. The phone should be your first instinct, not last.
Take responsibilities for your mistakes. You should be making lots of mistakes when you’re early on in your career but you shouldn’t be defensive about errors in judgment or execution. Stop trying to justify your screw-ups. You’re only going to grow by embracing the lessons learned from your mistakes.
Speak up, not out. Trash talking an employer is a cancer in the workplace. If you have issues with management, culture, or your role and responsibilities, SPEAK UP where it counts: to your supervisor or other management not on anonymous chat boards.
Burn bright not out. You can’t learn it all or do it all in your first few years. Focus on a few specific areas to get a few early wins. This helps to build your reputation and credibility, and you won’t burn out.
Embrace getting your butt kicked. This is the most impressionable, malleable and formative stage of your professional career. Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.
Your reputation is priceless; don’t damage it. Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business. It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors. Your reputation is the one item once lost, you can never get back.