If you want to succeed in your first job, there are a few key rules you should follow: be punctual, polite, and professional. However, the list of things you shouldn’t do is rarely written down, and it’s a fine line. Here are three rules you shouldn’t break when you start out in your first job. Think of them as the written rules of what not to do as you begin your professional career!
1) Dressing Too Casually
Sure, you’ve probably heard about artistic or tech jobs that don’t care if you wear jeans and a t-shirt to work every day. What they don’t mention is that almost every profession has times when you must dress to impress. Specifically, you should dress well when you are presenting at meeting or when you’re meeting with a director or someone important in your company. Not dressing to impress can be indicative of your attitude toward your job, whether or not that is true. Don’t let people assume you care about your job as little as you care about your attire.
The bottom line: Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. If you would like to be in the director’s chair, watch how she or he dresses and mimic that style. Show him/her that you know the culture and style, and you’ll be noticed – in a good way.
2) Blaming Others
Sometimes you just won’t know how to do things, particularly if you are starting out in a new job. If you make a mistake, you might be tempted to blame a coworker for not giving better instructions, or your supervisor for not providing training. Instead of owning up to your mistakes and asking for constructive criticism, you blame others and cast them in a bad light. Do this often enough, and people will avoid helping you or, worse, resent you.
The bottom line: Own up to any mistakes you made, but ask for help. If you made an error on an assignment because your supervisor did not give clear instructions, instead of blaming his/her communication style, ask for ways to improve communication. Note that you’re an entry level employee who wants to provide good work, done right the first time. That positive and eager attitude will impress your supervisor – and keep you in good standing among your coworkers.
3) Resisting Change
You may have joined your new company based on your boss’ reputation as a stellar communicator and mentor, only to find she was on the retirement track and will retire in three months. Software you’ve been using for months and Excel at may be phased out and replaced with something more complicated. Either way, complaining and resisting these changes does nothing but make you miserable. There will be enough other people in your company who also loathe the changes, and misery loves company. Don’t let yourself be dragged into a complaining spiral – it will only make you less productive and less likely to be seen as a team player.
The bottom line: Change happens. You will deal without it throughout your entire career, so look at the changes happening early in your career as a time to learn and improve your skills. That new, complicated software? Embrace the change and learn a new system. You never know if your next job will require that skillset, and you may be one of the few employees who know how to use it. New manager? Be open-minded about what you can learn from him/her. If you’re seen as someone adaptable to change, you’re likely to be given more responsibility and projects – which will get you noticed by others in your organization for something positive.