Entering the working world is part and parcel of becoming a bona fide adult.
Yet, many fresh graduates don’t always know what to expect in a professional working environment. And if it’s your first time stepping into the workforce, it’s always better to ask and sound silly than to be sorry later on.
We answer 7 common questions all fresh graduates have but are too afraid to ask.
#1. “What can I expect from my co-workers?”
Step into an office and you’ll quickly realise that the people at work are worlds apart from your university environment.
While vibing with your coursemates comes naturally to you because of the similarities in age and interests, the working world will be filled with people of various ages, educational backgrounds and personalities. You may find yourself having to work closely with tough (and stubborn!) personalities or those who have very contrasting views from you.
To stay positive at work, always approach your new colleagues with an open mind and avoid making preconceived notions about a person before you get to know them. As they say, never judge a book by its cover.
#2. “Is it important to network with people?”
Many professions such as business consultants, marketers and human resource executives require good social networking skills. This is fundamental as the wider your connections are, the more opportunities that will arrive at your doorstep, whether it’s securing a business project for your company or receiving a better job offer.
Even if you think that your job doesn’t require you to have a wide professional network (e.g. auditor, nurse), it is still important for you to be friendly and make connections with people in your company. You never know when you may need a helping hand, or even be the one who does someone a favour!
#3. “Is this the right job for me?”
Before you plunge headlong into any job offers, it’s always important to research the career progression of your field thoroughly. After all, you don’t want to end up having a questionable position in your resume when you’re applying for your next job.
Start by picturing your career goals for the next 5 to 10 years. Write them down and understand the requirements and challenges to achieve your goal. This will give you a clearer picture of your career pathway and whether the job that you are accepting aligns with where you want to be in the future.
If you’re not sure about what you want to do, taking a personality test might help.
#4. “What are my benefits as an employee?”
Benefits and incentives can vary drastically, depending on the company and the type of work you’ll be doing. Typically, the larger the company, the more benefits you’re likely to have.
Regardless of the size of the organisation, there are several statutory benefits required by law:
- Employer contribution to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF): This is a compulsory savings plan to ensure that you save a portion of your salary for retirement later on. A percentage of your monthly salary is deducted and your employer needs to contribute too.
- Employer contribution to the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO): This is an insurance scheme that provides you coverage for workplace accidents. Both you and your employer need to contribute a certain amount each month.
- Paid annual leave: You should be entitled to at least 8 days of annual leave. Most companies will provide you with 14 days.
- Sick leave: You should expect 14 days of sick leave each year.
You may also be entitled to other benefits such as medical claims, travel allowances and yearly bonus, subject to the company’s policies.
Remember to discuss all of this with your employer before accepting the job offer.
#5. “How can I perform well in my job?”
While having the right technical skills are important (e.g. a graphic designer needs to be proficient in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop), there are some general traits that you should have to impress your employers.
Firstly, always be curious and inquisitive by asking plenty of sensible questions about the ins and outs of the company. This shows that you have a keen interest in the company’s affairs and helps to speed up your learning process instead of being a passive learner.
You should also take the initiative to take on unassigned tasks and be an active participant during meetings. Every employer appreciates a worker who contributes and can bring fresh ideas to the table, and this can make you a valuable asset!
#6. “What should I not do at work?”
Since we’ve covered what you should do at work, it’s only right to know what you should absolutely avoid doing. They may seem like they should go unsaid, but you’d be surprised at how often these rules are broken.
Don’t be late
Unlike the Japanese, we Malaysians are known for always being late (“Malaysian timing” is not an excuse). While it’s perfectly fine to be late to your mamak meetups, it’s is a big no-no to be late to work, meetings and events. Being punctual is a sign of discipline and respect.
Don’t take things personally
Life at work can be overwhelming. Regardless if you’re a fresh-out-of-uni student or an experienced worker, everyone has their bad days. Whether it was a reprimand from your boss or a bad day of sales, always keep an open mind and never take things personally. Be professional and remember to always separate work and personal matters.
Don’t behave like a know-it-all
Nobody likes a show-off, especially if you’re new to the industry. It’s okay to show that you’re competent at work but never blow your trumpet so loudly that your colleagues think you’re a snob. Always remember to stay grounded and be humble. Be sure to empty your glass and be open to receive advice and constructive criticism.
#7. “How do employers determine my pay?”
Typically, as a fresh graduate, you can expect a starting salary of RM1,900 to RM2,900. However, it could be higher or lower depending on various factors.
For starters, states in the central region of Peninsular Malaysia (e.g. Selangor, Kuala Lumpur) seem to have higher salaries. Jobs in certain industries, such as mining and real estate, also command better pay. In addition, employers might also take into consideration your academic grades and work experience.
Avoid being exploited by dubious companies by doing your due diligence and seeking advice from reputable sources. Else, you might be overworked and underpaid!
That said, it’s important not to reject job offers merely due to the salary offered. Instead, focus on your long-term career growth and gain relevant experience first.
So there you have it — 7 questions fresh graduates typically ask about work. Remember that while starting your first job can be tough, you will eventually get the hang of things by staying positive and having a good support network. You’ve got this!