As many of you know, my son Jacob graduated from college a few months ago and has now started his first full-time position. (I did send him the LinkedIn ad for the position – but that’s a blog for another day.) As he fills me in on his daily activities, we discuss suggestions that might help him as he sets out on his career path.
These tips may be helpful not only for those starting a new job but for anyone interested in building a career.
1. Update your status. Let people know about your new position. Thank those who have helped you during your job search by sending a written note or by calling. If you don’t express your appreciation, they may not help you in the future. Add your new position to your LinkedIn profile. Tweet your followers and post your good news on Facebook.
2. Show initiative. Don’t just do your job, go above and beyond. Do more than what is expected of you. Solve problems, if you can. Get to work early, and don’t rush out the door at the end of the day. Be friendly. Show interest in your colleagues. Help others, when you can.
3. Take responsibility for your career. Just because you have a job, it doesn’t mean that you can stop thinking about your future. You are going to be working for a number of years, so you want to think strategically about the long term. As Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” You don’t need to have all the answers right now. It’s the thinking that is important. Consider the following:
--Find mentors and role models. It’s important to have people you can count on and learn from as you advance in your career. You will be meeting new people. Get to know them and let them get to know you.
--Evaluate whether you will need additional schooling. Do you need any certifications? Will an additional degree be beneficial? Can you take advantage of any company reimbursement programs? Know what you need and what’s available to you.
--Build your network. A network is a group of professionals who help and support each other. Join your professional associations and community organizations and get involved. Volunteer for committees. Run for office.
--Develop an area of expertise within your profession. Start building your reputation. In what category do you want to become known as an expert? Again, you don’t have to make a decision right away, but be open to finding areas that you really enjoy and where you excel.
4. Remember that sometimes a bad job can be great experience. If, after time, you find that you don’t love your job, don’t just quit. Think about what you are gaining from the position. Are you learning new skills? Are you meeting new people? Are you learning how to manage a bad boss? Are you gaining the experience you need so that you can leave to go to a better job?
5. Follow your “bliss.” Hugh Jackman mentions following his “bliss” when he took his award-winning role in the Broadway show The Boy from Oz. He said in an interview in Southwest Magazine, “It wasn’t what anyone considered a good career move, but I just knew it was the right thing to do.”
6. Save for retirement. I know retirement seems like a lifetime away when you are just starting out – and it is – but start building your financial future as you build your career. Take advantage of any retirement plans your company offers. Saving even a little amount from each paycheck now will make a significant difference to you when you retire, because those small amounts will grow over time. Need encouragement to save? According to a Stanford study, if you look at a digitally enhanced photograph of yourself that gives you an idea of what you will look like when you are older, you will be more likely to put money aside for your retirement.
7. Stay healthy. Starting a new job can be stressful. Make sure you eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise. Does your company have a gym that you can use? If you can, try walking to work.
Additional career information can be found in my new book The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success.