Advice for Starting Your First Job

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When you’re just starting a new job—whether you’re changing careers or you’ve just graduated from college—you’re probably uncertain about what to expect. Here’s some advice on how to hit the ground running:

• Accept that you’re a newcomer. Confidence is good, but arrogance will turn your new co-workers and bosses off. Be ready for the learning curve and the work that it entails. You’ll have to master your job, navigate the dynamics of your workplace, and figure out how to interact with people. Don’t assume you’ll get everything right the first day.

• Don’t miss deadlines. Employees who routinely miss deadlines are usually viewed as disorganized, unreliable, and unprofessional. Manage your time effectively so you can hit every deadline on the nose, and you’ll be seen as dependable and promotable.

• Learn the culture. Every workplace is different, even within the same industry. Find out the unwritten rules about your organization—who has official and unofficial influence, what the dress code really means, what behavior is tolerated and what isn’t. This will take time, so keep a low profile while you figure these things out.

• Ask questions. Don’t pester people, but take the time to get the details about every assignment. Good questions show that you’re curious and committed to doing a good job.

• Avoid burnout. You’ll want to work hard to impress people, but don’t work so hard that you burn out early. Pace yourself so you can maintain your energy and enthusiasm for the long haul.

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