After countless interviews and numerous résumé submissions, you finally have your hands on your first job. While your heart might be racing as you enter the doors of your new employer, there are a few things you should do in the beginning of your career to help you get ahead.
Let the rush of adrenaline fuel you as you begin the career you've always dreamed of. While the paycheck is nice, of course, you want to make sure that your mind isn't just on the money, but also on how exactly you can advance yourself. Growth is incredibly important as a person, as well as an employee. "Make sure you have a game plan. The steps you're going to take to get you to your goals will allow you to be successful," says career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide Roy Cohen in a phone interview with Bustle. Use this time to figure out where you want to be in the next five years and how exactly to get there. No person or career is ever perfect, of course, but as long as you're learning through your mistakes and lessons along the way, your career can blossom into something beautiful. Whether you're just starting out or you want a little refresher, here are 11 things to do in the beginning of your career to help get you ahead.
1. Plan Backwards
Sometimes to figure out your career, you need to envision how you see yourself in the future. "What do you want to be doing when you’re 50? Map out the road to your goal and get on that path now," says editor and CEO of Blawnde Annie Lawless in an interview with Bustle over email.
2. Network Strategically
While few people truly enjoy networking and many people find it awkward and uncomfortable, the truth is that meeting people and making connections is vital for your career. "Instead of focusing on knowing lots of people, focus on ensuring the right people in your field know your and your skills," says Lawless.
3. Never Stop Learning About The Industry
Some people stop putting in the effort once they finally have a job, but you actually need to do the opposite if you want to advance in your career. "Put in the time to get to know the industry and add value to discussions with your boss and colleagues by referencing any articles in industry publications, newspapers, international publications and on-line resources that may have relevance to your industry (whether directly related to your role or not). Spend time outside of office hours learning the industry (in any way that you can)," says CEO of Skinfix Inc. & SweetSpot Labs Amy Gordinier-Regan in an interview with Bustle over email.
4. Know Your Career Non-Negotiables
While the beginning stages of your career are about growing and learning, you also want to make sure that you're making the right decisions for your future. "You don’t want to waste your energy and time doing things you don’t want to be doing," says Lawless.
5. Show Enthusiasm
It's never a good idea to take your job for granted. Remember that your employer picked you to be a part of their team and it's important to show your boss and co-workers how much you want to be there. "Be eager, be grateful for the job and ask a lot of questions. It doesn't matter if you were top of your class at Harvard and were offered every job that you interviewed for — the truth is, you took this one. Now show them how happy you are to be there, how much you embrace what they are doing and how ready you are to learn and contribute," says Gordinier-Regan.
6. Learn How To Delegate
As time goes on and you begin to get promoted, you should try to be aware on how to delegate your tasks around the office. "As you climb the ladder, you need to know the difference between the things you should and shouldn’t be spending your time on," says Lawless.
7. Engage In Assessments
While getting to know your job is important, knowing who you are as an individual and employee is vital for your career, too. "Examine your likes, talents, strengths and weaknesses. It allows you to come up with preliminarily goals so you know why and what you want," says Cohen.
8. Take Initiative
Don't be afraid to make decisions at your job. It will show your boss that you're a leader and you don't need to be babysat. Just remember to always communicate with your boss about any important decisions you make. "Identify ways to drive work forward and take initiative to do things better," says Lawless.
9. Make The Time
When you're just beginning your career, you need to put everything you have into it. Show how enthusiastic you are by not slowing down. "You can't work half-assed. You need to give your craft undivided attention. You need to be willing to go above and beyond," says Cohen.
10. Learn Your Strengths
The great thing about just starting out your career is figuring out what you're excel at and how you can make your strengths grow stronger. "Know exactly what you’re good at and build your career around your strengths," says Lawless.
11. Break Bad Habits
Try to figure out what's holding you back in your profession. This is the time to break your bad habits so you can have a good reputation in your industry as you move up the ladder in your profession. "Whether you always pull all-nighters, you drink too much during the weekends, or you smoke a lot during office hours, you become unproductive when you do these habits and it makes you less valuable. Bad habits will tarnish your reputation," says Cohen.
When you begin your career, you're probably going to have a lot of moments where you'll be unsure of the right steps to take. Focus on how exciting it is that this is the time to figure out what works best. That excitement paired with focusing on these tips will probably help you decide the direction you want your career to go in before you know it.