You’re excited – and nervous. You’re confident – and clueless. These are all normal feelings when you’re just starting your career. But your career path is a long one and there are some good habits you can start practicing early on. While you’ll have to navigate your own career journey – and learn along the way – these eight career tips will help you as you jump in.
Ask For Feedback
Waiting for your annual review to assess your performance is not a good move. Show a willingness to learn by being proactive and asking for feedback on a regular basis. If there’s a project nearing completion, ask your supervisor to take a look and give you some pointers before you turn it in to the higher-ups. Be proactive about getting feedback and take constructive criticism with a smile. After all, it’s the opportunity to learn and be better next time.
You’ve probably heard the saying, who you know is more important than what you know. While I wouldn’t go that far, you never know what career opportunities your contacts might be able to provide in the future. Build relationships with your teammates, your boss, other department heads and coworkers. Connect with these professionals on LinkedIn so you have a line of communication to reach out once you’ve moved on from your current role. Pro tip: Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn from those you’ve worked closely with as proof of your abilities.
Don’t Pretend To Know Everything
You’re new to the company, and possibly the industry and your career. It’s OK to admit that. The company that hired you knows that. Ask questions when you don’t know something – whether it’s to coworkers, your supervisor or a mentor. (It’s a good idea to get a mentor you can trust who has experience in the company – or at least the industry. Some companies are even pairing newbies upon hiring.) Many companies like “green” employees so they can shape the way you perform tasks to their liking. So ask about the finer points of completing your job tasks.
Yearn To Learn
Take advantage of the fact that you’re still wide-eyed about your new career and soak up every bit of knowledge you can. Most people are willing to give you career tips if you ask. Find a few trustworthy individuals and pick their brains. As you grow in your career, people expect you to bring a certain bank of knowledge with you. Your excitement to learn early on in your career will likely come with praise – and it will start a good habit as you make future career choices. Being open to others’ thoughts and ideas is vital to growth at every stage of your career.
Embrace The Journey
Forget climbing a corporate ladder, it might be a rollercoaster. While traditional career guidance tells you to make a detailed career plan to steer your future, it might be better to keep an open mind. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have goals. But, give yourself a break. You’ve just started out in the world of work and you have no idea what might end up interesting you. Maybe you started in marketing but sales sounds much more engaging. Or maybe you met a vendor your company uses and that industry sounds appealing. With work-life blend being more important, you may even find yourself rethinking the 9-to-5 at certain points of your life (and companies are increasingly more accepting of flex work options). Go with the flow.
Be Mindful Of Soft Skills
As you get involved in your career, it’s easy to focus continuous learning on skills specific to your work tasks. But soft skills are necessary across all industries and job types. Be sure you’re honing your written and verbal communication skills, time management skills and ability to work in a team. Especially if you have aspirations of leadership, educating yourself on conflict resolution and problem-solving can help prepare you for future work situations. It’s nice if your company has a workplace learning program you can leverage, but even reading self-help books (or listening to the audiobook) will give you the boost you need.
Take On The Big Projects
Don’t be afraid to dive right in, even if you’re the new guy or gal on the team. Really, it’s the only way you’ll learn. Remember, this is your chance to ask questions – and there’s no better place to do it than on a big project where you’ll be exposed to a myriad of situations. Your willingness to take on an important project will show your superiors that you have confidence in your work. And think about how great it will feel when you’ve accomplished something so sizeable! Anything smaller thereafter will be easy-peasy.
Find Work With Meaning – For You
We spend too much of our lives working for it to be something unenjoyable. Sure, every day might not be a walk in the park. But seeking a company that aligns with your personal beliefs is important for your job satisfaction – and personal happiness. Find a role in which you feel like you’re contributing to a greater good and you can bring your passions. There may be other opportunities, like committees and boards, that will help bring meaning to your work as well.