December 8, 2017, by Jackie Thompson
Five Practical Tips for Your First Graduate Job
by Jenna Alexander, National Head of Internal Recruitment at Hays
The beginning of your career is a constant learning curve. With the benefit of hindsight, what do experienced professionals wish they’d known when starting out?
Here are five top tips for your first graduate role.
1. She or he who shouts the loudest doesn’t necessarily get furthest
It can be tempting to think you need to be the loudest person in the room early in your career to stand out from your peers. The truth is, you don’t need to change your personality in order to get ahead – in fact, being authentic to yourself often pays off because people feel they can trust and relate to you.
Don’t forget, you were hired because the company saw qualities in you that appealed to them, so feel confident about progressing on your own merits.
2. Asking questions doesn’t make you look stupid
Raising your hand during a meeting may feel daunting at first but remember, all professionals need to do this at some point in their career. In fact, asking questions – no matter how basic they may seem – is a strength, not a weakness.
The most effective and diligent employees ask if they aren’t sure, because they care about getting their facts right and doing a good job in the long run. This applies whether you’re at entry or Director level.
3. Sharing your knowledge creates a win-win situation
In a competitive environment, it may feel like good ideas need to be kept close to your chest. Sharing your talents, ideas and experiences, however, will contribute to team success and reflect well on you in future.
Seize opportunities to share your knowledge in the workplace, whether by putting forward an idea during a meeting, adding more input when working on team projects, or running a training session with your team.
4. Leadership is not just for senior people
Leadership is a quality rather than a skill – a spark that can be shown early in your career, creating potential for faster progression (as opposed to waiting to be promoted through length of service). Being a leader doesn’t mean sitting in an office and giving orders, but understanding your workforce and how to get the best from them.
It’s never too early to demonstrate leadership qualities, through knowledge sharing, leading by example, staying curious, and giving praise.
5. Work smarter not longer
There may be times where you have to come in early or stay later, but avoid constantly working overtime in the hope of impressing your boss. What will truly impress – and maintain a healthy work-life balance – is working smarter during your working hours.
Get some exercise, engage with people outside of your work tasks, take some time away from your desk and go back to the office with your batteries recharged. You will be more productive with a fresh and rested mind.
All these lessons boil down to being honest and true to yourself. Don’t feel you need to rely on false bravado to get ahead. Look at the areas in which you need to develop and ask the questions you need to ask to improve. Don’t be scared to show vulnerability by sharing your ideas for the business or even just taking a step back to recharge your batteries.
For more advice on navigating your first graduate job, visit our working life pages. If you’re looking for your first role after graduating, find tips and vacancy sources on the graduate jobs section of our website.