10 important things to know before starting your first job

24 July 2020

You’ve endured three to four years of university, and you’re all ready to start a new chapter in your life. Taking the first step to adulthood after years of education can be intimidating. There may also be expectations that your first job could be the start to a successful career and your parents would probably have listed down some ideal career options on your behalf. Some of the factors include having a decent starting salary, medical benefits, and a balanced work-life culture. 

Keep calm and don’t panic, here are 10 tips you should know before starting your first full-time job. 

1. Create a proper email address

Email addresses are the first thing employers see when they receive your job application. If you don’t already have one with your name on it, now is the time to set it up. Avoid using the email address that you created five years ago. A professional email address should just include your first and last name. If that’s been taken, just add in some significant numerical such as your birthday.

2. Structure your resume

Even though you might have a long list of achievements from secondary school, they might not be relevant for the job you are applying for. Always put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager, try to find out what are the relevant skills required for the job – include those certifications instead. Try to keep your resume within a page or two. For the design, keep it clean and structured – unless you’re applying for a creative role.

3. No longer an internship

While an internship is the best way to have an experience of what the industry is like, being a full-time employee holds bigger responsibilities and your supervisors, or colleagues will have higher expectations of you. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t make mistakes and be rigid in your work (because failures should be perceived as lessons in life!), but you have to take initiative and step up your game.

4. Prepare yourself well the night before

Gone are the days of sleeping late and waking up at ungodly hours. Working full-time means you’ll be working office hours, and thus you’ll have to wake up early to reach work on time. It’s important to have at least 8 hours of sleep every night to ensure your health is at its optimum.

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5. Voice out your thoughts

Joining the first official meeting of your career can be daunting, especially if your big bosses are in the same room. For the first few meetings, it’s important to observe and see how the meetings are run. However, once you’ve started to adapt to your work, you should provide your thoughts and opinions on issues, where necessary. Do remember that there are no such things as silly questions! If you’re an introvert, you may check with your colleague or supervisor post-meeting so you’ll have greater clarity and direction. Always be curious and willing to learn new things.

6. Utilise your lunchtime efficiently

If your work is rigorous and stressful, lunch might be the best break you’ll get. Use this opportunity to socialise and mingle with your colleagues, find out more about the team’s dynamic and what’s required of you in the position. By socialising, you’ll be able to find out your team members’ personalities and also see how you can support them whenever possible. Separately, lunch can get quite expensive, especially if you’re working in town or the CBD. Why not check out our 1-for-1 dining options?

7. Learning never stops

Even after you graduate, you’ll still learn every single day. You’ll learn much more in your first full-time job because you’re now working in the real world, experiencing real problems and finding ways to solve them. Yes, you won’t know everything at your first job, and that’s completely fine – everyone starts somewhere.

Enquire with your colleagues or HR if there are any short courses or classes that are sponsored by the company, which you can enrol in to be certified. Ensure that these courses are relevant to your industry so they can be applied to your job. This would provide a less steep learning curve and would tremendously catapult your knowledge.

While on course, leverage on the opportunity to network and meet with other employees in the company, especially those who are in the position to possibly mentor you. A good mentor is invaluable and would make your first full-time job experience a fruitful one.

8. Spend your first salary strategically

Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for receiving your first salary! Celebrate over dinner and drinks with your loved ones, but as tempting as it sounds to spend lavishly, don’t go overboard. It is always good practice to save up for your retirement or a rainy day in the future. Consider getting insurance plans to make you’re well covered for the future.

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9. Always take notes during meetings

This is a fundamental rule that everyone should inculcate in their career, especially when you’re starting a new job. Be eager and curious to learn, every meeting and brainstorm sessions are a learning experience that’ll benefit you. Furthermore, it’s also pivotal to take pointers informed by your teammates and supervisors, so you’re clear on the next steps that are required of you. Always have a notebook and a pen by your side.

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10. Don’t shun away from failure

See the glass half full, instead of half empty. It’s paramount to understand that failures are part and parcel of life. Don’t be disheartened because you sent out a wrong email content, set up a wrong meeting invite or addressing the recipient inaccurately. All these mistakes are lessons which you can apply and learn to be more careful moving forward. Additionally, use this opportunity to find what you’re good and bad at. Your first job may not be the glowing start to a successful career, but it is a necessary stepping stone that’ll eventually lead to your end goal.

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