Eight Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Job

Starting your first job is exciting and challenging in ways you may not expect. First jobs are a minefield of potential missteps for even the smartest and most ambitious young professionals. Everyone makes mistakes on their first job. Handling those mistakes with poise and professionalism will tell your bosses a lot about what they can expect from you. Get one step ahead by avoiding the most common mistakes first-timers make early in their careers. Here are eight blunders to avoid.

You Show Up Late.

Arriving late to work on the first day demonstrates that you overslept, ran into congested traffic, missed the commuter train or lost your ID. At the least you’ve shown your boss that you didn’t think ahead and prepare for this first test of professionalism. Showing up late consistently signals that you don’t value your job.

You Dress Unprofessionally.

Do a little homework before you show up in flip flops and surfer shorts. Find out if your workplace wardrobe should be business casual or banker suits. The expected attire isn’t going to be the dress code set by your high school or university. If you want to be taken seriously, you’ll have to dress the part.

You Don’t Learn the Code of Conduct.

Your behavior should rise to expected standards of civility and politeness. Off-color language and inappropriate stories or misogynistic and racist jokes are unacceptable.

You Don’t Understand the Job.

Now’s the time to ask your boss about expectations and how things should be done. How does your manager want you to communicate? Don’t hesitate to ask for directions, instructions or clarification.

You Act Helpless.

Acting helpless instead of being resourceful can create a bad impression. Managers want to know young workers can think and solve problems. Instead of going straight to the boss for every answer, try to use available resources as your first recourse. For example, you need a company file to work on a project. Ask your co-workers where common files are kept or search for it on the company server. Get familiar with company resources you’ll need for everyday tasks.

You Divulge Too Much About Your Personal Life.

The workplace is not your dorm, and you should recognize that you’re in a different environment at the office. Too many first-timers share details about their private lives. Do you really want your new colleagues to know that you got drunk last night? Or why your really hot date was so hot?

You Don’t Recognize Social Media Boundaries.

Drawing lines between your personal and professional lives is especially important when you are starting your career. Learn the workplace culture and get to know your coworkers before you decide which social platforms you want to share. Don’t rush to friend your colleagues right away.

You Stay on the Phone.

Personal phone calls should be held to a minimum and they should be brief. Spend the morning texting your friends and your boss will notice. You’ll be setting a pattern that defines you as a professional. If you expect an important call from a client during a business meeting, alert your boss before the meeting starts that you may have to step out.

 

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