A Fresh Graduate’s Guide to Starting Your First Job
Are you a fresh graduate who is about to start your first professional job? Find out what are some of the things you should know before hitting the daily grind!
Published 30 Jan 2019
Whether it’s to fulfil your university’s internship requirement or if you’ve just completed your studies and you’re ready to enter the workforce, we understand that starting your first job can be extremely nerve-wracking, especially if you have little to no experience. Hence, it becomes important that you do some homework before starting your new job.
In this article, we’ve listed some important things for you to know (and do!) that will not only help you make a good impression at work, but will also help you transition smoothly into the working world.
#1. Practise good time management
Starting a new job is undoubtedly stressful — the combination of being surrounded by new people in a different environment while having to complete work you’ve never done before takes some getting used to.
Luckily, simply managing your time well can help. Similar to how you had to manage your time in college to ensure you met multiple assignment deadlines, you can apply the same methods to stay on top of your schedule and reduce stress levels at work. All you need to do is set your goals for the week or day and prioritise which tasks need to be completed first.
Stay motivated to work hard by rewarding yourself with a treat at the end of the day after completing a particularly tough task.
#2. Ask questions and get feedback
One of the best ways to pick up the right way of doing things at work (like how to write a proper report) is to ask questions in regards to important tasks. It’s always best to check things through halfway rather than to find out you’ve used the wrong formula in the wrong spreadsheet after you’ve spent 5 hours working on the report!
It’s also important to get regular feedback from your superiors, supervisors or even your colleagues who have been working there longer than you have. This way, you will learn the ways of the company’s standard operating procedure and you’ll continue to improve along the way.
Avoid asking questions for things that you can easily research on your own or look up in your training documents.
#3. Keep copies of all documentation
Keeping track of all your important documents (e.g. employment letter and payslips) can be tedious. However, filing them properly is crucial as you would most likely need them in the future.
When starting a new job, the best practice is to allocate a folder or two (preferably a sectioned one) to keep all of your important documents in one place so that you can avoid misplacing them. Some of these documents include:
- Your letter of appointment and work contract
- Company policies and non-disclosure agreements
- EA forms (even if you’re not eligible to file for taxes yet)
- Performance reviews (if applicable)
- Copies of your expense claims and receipts
Having all these documents in one place will make things so much easier when you need to use any of them in the future. For example, your performance review documents will be useful if you’re asking for promotions or increments while your EA form can be used when filing tax returns. It’s also handy to have all your contracts available should there be any legal predicaments pertaining to your job.
If you’re worried about losing the hard copies of your documents, immediately have them scanned and safely stored in your laptop or tablet, or even on the cloud, such as Google Drive.
#4. Get to know other employees from other departments
Cooperation is key in any type of business — if you’re not working cohesively, nothing will be achieved.
As you’ll be working with your colleagues for an extended period of time, it pays to get to know not only your team members but also colleagues from other departments as well. This will help you learn more about every aspect of the company and can benefit you should you need to work with other departments in the future.
To break the ice between your new colleagues, try out common conversation starters — a simple hello or asking about their weekend could lead to a conversation. And if your colleagues invite you out to join them for after-work drinks, take it as an opportunity to learn more about them — you may be surprised to find that you share some common interests!
If you find it hard to start conversations because you’re socially awkward or too shy, these essential tips will help.
#5. Have a self-development plan
Do you dream of becoming a managing director of a multinational conglomerate? Or perhaps you would like to start your own business in the field of your choice after 10 years?
Establishing yourself is a lifelong process — you will not be able to achieve your goals overnight, so it’s imperative you draw up a plan for yourself to stick to throughout your career. In order not to lose sight of your goals, your plan should constantly be reviewed: whatever career aspirations you aim for should be translated into a workable plan of action based on your current learnings, transferable skills and past experiences.
For example, if you research the role of a manager in your field on Jobstreet and find that they need at least 6 years of experience with certain skills, you will know exactly which skills you should brush up on and will roughly know how long it’ll take you to achieve your career goal.
While there are many things to get used to when starting your first job, it’s important to remember to take things one step at a time. If you’ve set your heart on climbing the corporate ladder, remember to have plenty of patience. After all, no one becomes an expert overnight. It may seem like a slow and steady climb, but the knowledge that you will accumulate along the way will be absolutely worth it. Good luck!