Succeeding in your first job

  February 27, 2017

As a graduate you might be a bit worried about your first 'real job'; even if you've had summer or weekend work in the past, there's something extremely intimidating about that first post-uni job. It suddenly feels like there's a lot more pressure on you to do well. After all, who really cares if you get fired from your local Saturday job; you were only doing it for extra cash anyway. But with your 'real job', you literally need that money to live; people are watching you to see if you succeed or fail; your parents will be telling their friends and your family about how proud of you they are; friends will be looking at you to judge how 'successful' you've become after uni. Plus as it turns out, finding a job is actually a lot harder than you first thought, so you definitely don't want to have to go through all that rigmarole to find another one. All of this stacks up to one inevitable conclusion – you have to ace this job or the world will collapse.

First off, a friendly consolation; in the event you don't blow everyone away, and even if you did somehow manage to get fired after a week, trust us, the world isn't going to collapse. Sometimes things don't work out, and part of the post-uni experience is learning how to pick yourself up and move forward.

But just to help make sure that doesn't happen, we've got some handy hints to help increase your chances of success in your first job.

Tip one: get a job you actually enjoy. Easier said than done, we know, especially as you may not know at this stage, what that is; but try not to go down the 'any job will do' route as this nearly always spells misery, resentment, and an eventual decline in work performance that will get noticed.

Tip two: don't be afraid to ask questions (and make suggestions). Part of the reason you've been hired is to bring in some fresh blood, and as such a part of your role is to ask questions and challenges the status quo. Obviously don't go completely Rambo about it, but if you don't understand why something is done how it is, then ask, and if you can see a way to do it better, suggest it. The worst they can do is say no.

Tip three: don't settle for a bad boss. It's tempting in your first job to try and stick it out when things aren't looking great, but if you dealing with a bad boss, then don't stand for it. A good manager should inspire you, support you and encourage you to grow. If you're boss is making you feel like a piece of muck on their shoe (and it does happen unfortunately, a lot of power games happen with graduate managers), don't put up with it. Not only is it going to hinder your performance, it's seriously going to damage your confidence, and you don't deserve that.

Tip four: ask for and listen to feedback. The only way you can improve is if you know where you're struggling, so ask around. Ask your manager and colleagues for input on your performance, and be willing to listen to it, even if it's not exactly what you want to hear. And if it's something you agree with, make a change, it will show you're willing to learn, and have potential for growth, which is a key ingredient in success.