How to begin your first job well

by By Latashni Gobi Nathan (latagn@sph.com.sg)
published on 21 June 2016

As a fresh graduate, your first day at your first formal job can be quite scary and exciting at the same time.

You may not know everything about your office protocol or what the working world is really like, but remember that you were hired for a reason.

Mr Andrew Jones, a career coach, said before you start your first day of work, think back to your interview process and the questions you were asked.

He said: “You were hired for much more than your academic scores. Bring your critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills to work with you. As you progress in your career, your soft skills will become more valued by your employer and be the critical differentiator in your success. So put them to use from day one.”

Good qualities to have

You may be new, but you can come to work with the right attitude and qualities in mind.

Mr Benjamin Loh, a published author and an executive public speaking coach said: “The first quality you should have is self-awareness. A lot of fresh graduates tend to make too much of their qualities and try to be someone they are not. Experienced line managers will be able to see through that. So stay true to your values. Be clear on your personal strengths, critical areas of growth and blind spots. There is tremendous courage and value in saying you do not know something but are willing to learn.”

Mr Jones said flexibility and attentive listening are also qualities that can make you stand out.

He said: “Your employer will appreciate flexibility. Be ready to take on unexpected tasks that are out of your job scope. Temper your natural enthusiasm for your new role by listening carefully to what is expected of you when you are assigned a task. It is always better to clarify unclear instructions before you start on a task than to return a result that does not meet expectations.”

You should have the desire to advance your career and excel in your company. Mr Loh said that as your employers chose you over other candidates, do not rest on your laurels.  Do your best every day as you will be under evaluation and scrutiny during your probation period.

Make good impressions

Once you start work, remember that you are constantly being assessed by your bosses and colleagues. Introduce yourself to as many people as you can.

Mr Jones said: “Your reputation is forming from day one, so be mindful of your behaviour, and how you write e-mails, conduct calls and what you post on social media. An easy way to make a positive first impression is to arrive early on your first day at work and for every meeting. Start building your network. Ask your colleagues out for lunch or coffee. Learn about what they do and let them learn about you.”

Ask your manager or boss if you can try out new and creative ways to help the company. Discuss your findings with your superiors. Whether or not your idea is used, your proactive attitude will be appreciated.

Ms Jeraldine Phneah, an account manager who has worked for two years said: “When I first joined my company, I tried to help my colleagues and do more than what was asked of me. I got quickly noticed by my supervisors because I came up with creative solutions, like staggered working hours, to solve everyday problems. I asked for more responsibilities and showed I could handle them well. I was confident in the risks that I took and the move paid off.”