S1 E3: Finding Success In A New Job

  July 10, 2017
If instant success came in a bottle, we'd sell it and be millionaires.

But, as we see below, success is never "instant." Furthermore, different people define this term in different ways. Most people think of success in terms of these four markers:

  • Money,

  • Work-Life balance,

  • Prestige, and

  • Intellectual challenge.

At the same time, most all people disagree as to how these markers should rank. Some people are primarily concerned with money and prestige, and they do not mind that they are expected to work long hours which make it almost impossible to have a personal life or that they basically perform the same tasks over and over every day of the year. On the opposite end, some people view success as leaving at five o'clock on Friday and not thinking about work again until Monday morning while, during the day, they move from task to task.

Both these approaches are perfectly legitimate. At Happy Work, we are not here to pass judgment or tell you what to do. Instead, we are here to help you succeed, no matter how you define that term.

What to Avoid

About 25% of recent graduates leave their first jobs in less than twelve months, and a significant number don't even make it to three months. The high turnover rate has remained fairly consistent over the last several years, even as the UK unemployment rate has dropped steadily. These trends suggest that the reason people leave their jobs have not changed very much either. In some cases, the employee's expectations are not in lime with the employer's expectations. Typically, that's due to a communication failure.

But in most cases, people want too much success too quickly. That's why burnout is a more common issue. Whenever we are faced with a new task, we usually approach it with a great deal of energy, and we use too much energy at the beginning, resulting in burnout. Imagine that you have a £100 note. If you spend that note quickly in £10 or £20 increments, it won't last very long. Other times, workers try to cut corners and take a shortcut to success. Sooner or later, these shortcuts are almost always exposed, putting future career growth at risk.

Getting a First Job

There are basically two keys to avoiding these pitfalls. First, clearly define "success" in your own mind. If your definition changes later, as it almost certainly will, talk to your boss before doing anything drastic.

Second, and before you start working at your dream job, you must do very well in the interview. For each new gradute job opening in the UK, there are about thirty-nine applicants, so competition is intense. To rise above the crowd, consider a few tips:

  • Research the company before the interview,

  • Anticipate questions that the interviewer will probably ask,

  • Arrive early, but not too early (about five or ten minutes),

  • Dress one level above normal workday attire (since most places are business casual, that probably means a business suit), and

  • Ask questions about the position.

Note that most of these events occur in the first few seconds of the interview. A good first impression usually covers other inadequacies, and on the other side, it is not easy to overcome a poor first impression.

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