Whether you’re going straight into the workforce from high school or heading into a full-time job after college, your success at your first real job will help define your future advancement. Part-time jobs are important in getting experience, and internships help you learn valuable work skills — they also sometimes help you get your foot in the door or meet someone who can set you up with a job.
However, your first full-time job will give you the chance to show just how motivated and committed a worker you are. Acing your first full-time job will increase your chances of moving up at your company and also potentially help you get an even better job outside of your company. First jobs come with stress, though, because of the demands, the schedule, and the newness. Here are five ways you can increase your chance of success.
1. Be on time and commit to your job
You should be on time for any job or meeting, but this is particularly important for your first job. The first few months you should make it a priority to be on time each day — you should really try to arrive at work early, and do the same for meetings.
Try your best not to request any time off unless you have an emergency. Many companies have policies about requesting time off during the probationary period or first few months, but even if your company doesn’t, you will look better and more committed if you make it to work on time each day and avoid taking time off. Your first job is an important aspect of your resume, and you want to make a good impression. When you are ready to have a vacation, be sure that you are progressing well in your job and consistently working hard, then ask early if you can and be flexible with your dates if possible.
2. Be presentable
While some companies have relaxed dress codes, you still need to adhere to that code. You are almost always better off over-dressing than under-dressing, so at least make an effort to look presentable and like you actually care about your job and the people around you. If possible, always dress with your day in mind, keeping in mind any important meetings that you have.
Being presentable doesn’t stop at what you wear, either. Make sure that your behavior is appropriate, too: When you are sitting at your desk, sit up straight, keep conversations to a minimum, and focus on your work. While sloppy dressing will probably get your boss’s negative attention, ignoring other important aspects of your overall presentation will, as well.
3. Have a positive attitude
No matter how much school or experience you have that is directly related to your new job, you will still need to learn a lot of new things. While your new boss will want to see that you are motivated and knowledgeable, you still need to have some humility during your first few months. You want to be confident and eager to learn, but you don’t want to come off as a know-it-all who doesn’t need advice or any training.
While most bosses would love to have an employee come in knowing everything, especially for your first job, most bosses will expect that you will sometimes need help. This doesn’t mean they will coddle you, so don’t expect that. Instead, try to learn as much as possible and take initiative, but do ask questions when you have them. Being afraid to ask questions — or thinking you are too smart to ask – will just increase your chances of making a mistake.
4. Avoid gossip
Joining in on workplace gossip can help you make friends easily, but it can also cause just as many enemies. If possible, avoid gossiping. You can still be open and respectful to other employees while distancing yourself from conversations that put people down. In order to avoid gossip, practice changing the subject, walk away if you can, and don’t repeat gossip you hear. Not only can gossiping damage your relationship with your coworkers, but it can detract from your work, which your boss won’t like.
Also be careful to avoid swearing in the office. Most bosses don’t want to hear swearing, and it can offend other workers. Instead, work on building relationships with your coworkers and your boss — be someone they can count on, and be kind.
5. Prove yourself
While a positive attitude and appropriate outfit are important for making a first impression, one of your biggest goals for succeeding at your first real job is to prove yourself and what you can do. This means that you need to consistently complete the work that your boss assigns you in a timely manner, but you also need to do it well. In addition, once you get used to your job, seek out other ways you can assist your boss or coworkers, take on new projects, and always work as hard as possible. This doesn’t mean you always need to put in more hours, but make sure your work speaks for itself. That way, when a promotion or a new job comes around in the future, you will be ready for it.
You should also try to avoid as many mistakes as possible, which can be hard during the first few months. One way to do this is to ask questions and get clarity when you are confused. Also, pay attention to your work and avoid distractions. If you make a good impression at your first job, you will set the stage for a long and successful career.