October 18, 2018, by Carla Froggatt
What Does a Successful Graduate Look like at Work?
By Hannah Woolley, Employability Education Manager
You’ve graduated. You’ve landed your first job. You feel like you’ve come a long way. And you have – you should be very proud of your achievements. But now it’s time to start your new adventure and those first days of work might feel like you’re right back at the beginning.
How should you behave? How can you stand out? You know that person that just seems to get things right, the one that always does well and achieves great things? How do they do it?
Chances are that they’re exhibiting three successful behaviours:
1. Make a contribution
It may sound simple but do something useful. Figure out what can add the most value and channelling your efforts towards it can make a real difference to your level of success. Give some thought to the wider context of where you work and its key drivers and try to tune in to what’s most important.
Once you’ve got this sorted, consider how you can best contribute. This might be by excelling at everyday tasks or by spotting a new opportunity. Each time you begin a new task, big or small, ask yourself how important it is in terms of making a real contribution… if it isn’t worthwhile, ditch it!
2. Prioritise people
There are some people who are just good to work with. The sort who give you a lift and make things feel easier. In short, try to be one of those.
To expand, invest time in your relationships at work and try to consider how best to interact with each person. This doesn’t necessarily mean adopting a social butterfly persona and being permanently cheerful – that can grate after a while – but it does mean trying to remain positive, using active listening skills to actually hear what people say and offering genuine interest, enthusiasm, and practical support to your colleagues.
3. Manage yourself
Managers are busy people and a needy graduate employee can quickly become another thing on their ‘to do’ list to sort out. This is not an ideal scenario.
Obviously, when you’re first starting out you’ll need to ask questions and it’s important to take direction and guidance from your superiors, but being respectful of your boss’ time is also important. Try to initiate a focussed, regular catch up. Make a clear list of things to discuss and include concise updates, questions to ask, and recent successes.
When you need support and don’t have time to wait, remember you can go to other people for information and advice. It might be a smart move to establish a network of trusted colleagues, people who are ‘experts’ in their field, or alternatively seek a mentor that has valuable experience to share.
So take note of these three key behaviours, focus on being successful and channel your inner high achiever!
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. If you’re no longer in Nottingham we can also offer support remotely, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.