Congratulations. You’ve graduated. After the pictures and the parties and perhaps a well-earned vacation are over, it’s time to get a job and join the workforce. We want to make sure graduates put their best foot forward and avoid a bad experience getting work.
So much effort goes into securing that first ‘real’ job that we sometimes forget to plan for actually being on the job. Often the only difference between success and failure is knowing a few tricks about what to look out for when the opportunity comes.
Here’s some tricks that will help you get ahead in the workforce.
Before You Sign That Employment Contract
1. Take Everything You’ve Learned into the Workforce
Nearly three-quarters of hiring managers complain that millennials – even those with college degrees – aren’t prepared for the job market and lack an adequate “work ethic…” Don’t let this scare you. If you haven’t had summer jobs to gather work experience, consider other life experiences you’ve had that have taught you valuable lessons. Sometimes the best employees are those that have done great things outside the workforce.
2. Understand Your Employment Contract
You’ve probably never seen an employment contract. Companies can offer you the world when they’re selling the ‘dream job’, but sometimes the fine print isn’t so dreamy. We know you’re excited but before you sign on the dotted line, make sure your contract is fair. Most contracts are harmless, but there are some clauses that can really haunt you. For example, does the contract have a non-compete clause that prevents you from working for anyone else in the same industry for the next 30 years? A clause about random drug testing? There are even confidentiality clauses that can land you in jail!
Taking Off Your Training Wheels
Once you’re on the job, here’s what to consider.
3. You Know Nothing, Jon Snow.
Your boss and co-workers don’t expect you to know everything, so don’t pretend that you do. Asking questions shows that you care about getting it right. If someone asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, say “I’ll find out” – and then do that and report back. Ask for feedback on your work, and don’t be defensive if it’s not as positive as you expected. If the feedback is less than enthusiastic, ask how you could have done better. If you make a mistake, own it. Then figure out why you made the mistake and how you can avoid making a similar one in future.
4. Remember, It’s Not All About You
Millennials are often criticized for being entitled and narcissistic. Instead of focusing on “what’s in it for me,” think about how you can help those around you. Find out what your company’s short- and long-term goals are and ask how you can help meet them. Attitude matters a great deal. If you act like your job is a bore or an imposition, and it just might be for the first few years of your career, people may question whether you’re worth keeping around.
5. But It Is About Your Ideas
One of the reasons companies like hiring graduates like you is that you’re hot off the press. Although less experienced, you’re not yet jaded by office politics or career upsets. The best thing you can do is to use your ‘newness’ by bringing new ideas to the table. You’re the generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and visionaries. Don’t let age or inexperience in the workplace stop you from showing initiative. Listen to others’ more experienced but be confident that you have something unique to offer too.
Now go get’em and enjoy it!