College is behind you. This has been a draining and sometimes overwhelming but overall amazing experience for you. You've got your dream offer and are ready to start a new job. It seems that everything that was challenging and overly demanding is behind, the goal is achieved, and your professional life is starting now. Unfortunately, this assumption is fundamentally wrong. It is too early to relax. You journey just starts here. And depending on how prepared you are for it, you will either succeed or fail.
The goal of this site is to make sure that you are well prepared. From basic communication and presentation skills to building relationships with your colleagues and company executives from Day 1, you need to know what type of environment you are entering and what is expected of you. And similar to your appearance producing a long lasting impression almost immediately, your first months on the job will determine your future success with your new employer significantly. So let's make sure you are well prepared!
This section includes career advice that was introduced by me as part of a Leadership University in a number of companies as well as world-class research in the field. You are getting all this information for free, as part of my desire to support the community of young professionals. If you want to give back, feel free to post comments, share your experiences, ask questions - let's talk, and the more we talk, the more others will benefit from your experiences and the more successful you will become in achieving your own success.
The next posting will describe the first 10 categories for professional advice you will see on this site. Feel free to suggest categories and share your challenges and questions.
The first ten most important topics for career advice for young professional entering their first job that we identified are listed below. We used a number of criteria to come up with this list. This included chronological criteria such as "Your First Day on a New Job" and statistical (most of college graduates consider themselves great presenters and frequently fail their first meeting with company management by not being able to read the audience and respond well) as well as emotional intelligence in targeting your communication to your audience and ability to read your audience that is another frequent failure points.
Every week, there will be two new tips posted so that this site has its first 100 tips by the end of 2016. We will structure these 100 tips in such a way that there may multiple tips related to one competency, so the way titles will be organized is <competency>:<tip>. While competencies will be familiar to you, the tips are intended to be fresh and as practical is possible with a lot of examples from our personal career as well as stories shared by students at a Leadership University session.
Your input into the topics and the content is greatly appreciated. Let's make this conversation interactive, as every conversation should be. Share your experience, ask questions, make this helpful to you in your career growth.
Having that said, the list of the first 10 topics:
1. Your first day on your first corporate job
2. Communicating with business executives
3. Your elevator pitch
4. Building relationships
5. Creating and delivering effective presentations
6. Building relationship with your manager
7. Creating an atmosphere of trust and respect
8. Providing effective summaries
9. Giving and receiving feedback
10. Reflecting on the shadow that you cast
See you soon with the topic #1: Your first day on your first corporate job
Try to arrive 15 minutes early, but don't call for the person who is supposed to meet you until 5 minutes prior to your scheduled time. And your smile and a firm (but not too firm) and professional handshake go without saying. These are professional courtesy rules, but it's worth remembering those on your first day at a new job.
You landed a great job right out of college! There is a good chance you've interned there, and maybe even more than once, so it feels you have it all covered. All the uncertainty, nervousness, the need to impress is over. Now you can relax and enjoy. Is that so? You've probably guessed that the answer is "no", Your journey is just starting. It's a multi-year journey with a goal of discovering yourself. A journey to a successful and rewarding professional career full of accomplishments and failures, achievements and disappointments. Some days you will feel victorious and some days you will come home defeated just to learn from your mistakes and accomplish even greater success.
The goal of this web site is to support you in building your trajectory for success, in helping you discover your strength and use them to achieve your professional dreams, in being yourself and learning from you past experience, and in realizing your professional dreams and "casting the shadow" that will make you proud. Our objective is to support you in being yourself and making a difference. Your first day at a corporate job is your first step on this path, and even if it may feel that you are well prepared, this may not be the case. What is it that you need to know?
Below are seven rules to make your first day at your new job super successful: You can turn this into a checklist or even build a plan around it - use the option that works best for you.
The way to approach the list below is a 3-step strategy:
- read the list and think it through (answer the question "What does it mean for me?");
- make it your own (some items need more details, some are less relevant);
- plan for it (as you think it through and then apply it to yourself, create a task list and plan for the time you need to implement those tasks. The best way to plan it is in reverse chronological order from your start day or any vacation you are taking prior to that):
1. Do your research. You may think you know everything about the company but chances are you do not. Re-review their corporate site, onboarding materials if available, google for the company and your department. Learn corporate values and be prepared to recite by heart and reference them.
2. Connect with HR and find out where/when to show up and what to bring in on your first day. Normally you need to bring your passport or other way of employment authorization.
3. Get in touch with your boss. Reach out by e-mail or via LinkedIn, express your excitement about joining the organization, your loyalty and dedication.
4. Get internal advice. Reach out to people you know within the organization via internships or previous experience (e.g. your former college mates) and ask for their advice as you are joining the company, Check the Glassdoor reviews,
5.Connect with people you know within the organization. Check LinkedIn for any 1-degree connections and reach out to them. Schedule lunch or informal get together with them, if they are available and welcoming.
6.Create a list of people you would like to meet with. Use LinkedIn, your interviewing experience, and the advice you got above.
7.Write down your long-term and short-term career objectives. Where you want to be in 3 months? 1 year? 3 years? Write this down for yourself. If you have enough information, plan your first 90 days. Check this blog for an experience report on the first 90 days planning.
I did not include obvious items such as dressing right on your first day, bringing a notepad and a pen and ideally, a nice professional folder to keep your papers in. I get a lot of questions about how to dress for your Day 1, and my advice is to dress one tiny step up from what you observed when you came to the office for your interview. If the dress code is casual and relaxed, wear slacks but not jeans on your first day. If the dress code is business casual, wear a shirt or a blouse but don't wear a tie or a dark suite. If it is business, this may require a tie for men and formal business attire (skirt or pant suits with a blouse) for women. It will all depend on your new company's dress code and the cultural norms of your office.
When I come to a new job, besides bringing passport and Day 1 supplies, I take my coffee mug with me because many companies have gone green, and you won't find a paper cup in their pantry when you grab a coffee there with your new colleagues, but this may be an overkill. Other than the coffee mug, I do not rush into bringing my personal items
Feel free to share any experience or advice that you have below.
There is a reason this topic comes up as your #2 tip next to your first day at a new job. Even in a huge corporation, business executives want to be aware of the promising new joiners who with proper mentorship and support will skyrocket to become the future of this company. Some of you will join your first job as a participant of one of executive programs rotating through the company to take a leadership position over time within a predetermined path. However, you do not need to be part of an executive leadership or any other career development program, to get support of your company executives and get your career on a fast track.
With that, you can either skyrocket your own career or miss your chance without even noticing it. Below we will cover three topics:
- how to prepare?
- how to make it happen?
- what to do and what NOT to do?
1. How do you prepare for your chance? There are three steps:
Step 1. At any moment of time, be ready with your "elevator pitch": who you are, what your role in the company is and one recognizable fact about yourself that is easy to remember, In the Tip #3 we will talk in detail about what to include in and how to present your elevator pitch. Rehearse it weekly, while your driving to work or before you go asleep. Set up time, update it as needed, and be ready whenever you get a chance.
Step 2. Learn how to target your communication to your audience. Executives have the shortest attention span. Their time is most valuable, so once you get the opportunity, do not engage in telling a long story about your hometown or about your sister in college. Share your "elevator pitch" and prepare to listen, engage, and relate to your executive. Do not ask for favors, do not get too wordy, do not complain. Relate, make yourself memorable, stand out, show your passion and empathize. Ask questions, share successes, suggest support. Most importantly, do not overextend the time you got. Check the non-verbal clues. If the executive looked at his/her watches while talking to you, get the hint. Your emotional intelligence is the key here, not your job performance.
Step 3. Know your executives. In order to relate to your executives, you need to know who they are and what they value. I still remember this company that I joined on a Wednesday years ago. It turned out that they just moved to a new location and every Wednesday evening, they had "wine and cheese" party at a new floor with a group sitting on this floor introducing themselves. On the exact day I joined, I got an e-mail inviting everyone to join accounting department on the 5th floor. I hardly had anything to do with accounting professionally (except getting my paycheck) but I decided to go and meet my new co-workers. I asked my new colleagues if they are going, but no one was interested.
Ask yourself, what would you do? It's your first day at your work, there are "wine and cheese" Wednesdays every week, so you can go next Wednesday or the Wednesday after next and so on. None of your colleagues are going so you'll be there alone. You are exhausted because your Day 1 at a new job is most likely loaded, so you are ready to go home rather than spend an hour after work hanging with people you do now know drinking cheap wine in work environment. I did not think this way. The way I looked at it: wow! I am so lucky! It's my day 1 and I already have a chance to meet new people outside of my department! Plus wine and cheese sounds very nice (I obviously chose the right employer!) and so I went.
When I came to the fifth floor, there were very few people there, so we started chatting right away. Then, I got to the counter to grab some cheese and there was someone else over there grabbing his snack. This gentleman looked at me and said he name was John and asked me who I was. I shared my elevator pitch and we had a nice conversation with John about the future of education (it was an educational company), the benefits of running (it turned out he was a runner), and about my onboarding experience. Why did I start with the elevator pitch, you ask? Because I reviewed the company web site and LinkedIn profiles of its executives prior to joining, and of course, I recognized John, the CEO, and I was aware of his passion for running, and the rest of the conversation just developed organically, and we both enjoyed it.
The next thing I knew in a couple of days that I was invited to an introductory meeting with John, the CEO, then I was invited to present to him monthly on the progress of the initiative I was leading, and within months, I moved to a managerial role (I'd like to think that this would happen anyway, but this encounter gave me the exposure I needed to make this move fast and easily).
If I did not go to this seemingly unimportant event on my Day 1, I would never know that I missed my chance.
2. How to recognize your chance?
The previous example is helpful in understanding that you should never shy away from any exposure, no matter how new to the company or how busy you are. I recall an instance early in my career when we were getting ready to launch our web site. We replatformed and rebranded the whole company website for a large corporation, and that night was the launch day. We were working with a vendor, so there were few people on the floor involved in the effort. I was in charge of a team of business analysts who built the logic for this huge news and marketing site, from data feeds to editorial content. A big part of it was the logic of importing historic news releases for the last ten years so that the users would be able to search for them on the new site.
The day of launch, two things happened. First, we had a visit of our CIO scheduled who was expected to tour the floor and meet with personnel for 30 minutes. Second, we found out that there was an issue with our logic for importing historic news releases, so they were not searchable on the new site. We were all trying to find out a solution when CIO came to the floor. I told my team of Business Analysts that it is up to them whether they choose to participate in this informal get together with CIO or stay with me and fix the issue. All of us stayed except for one analyst (let's call her Ankita) who chose to go meet with CIO. The rest of us worked hard, we came up with a fix, and in the evening, we went live with the new web site - a huge win for the whole company. We worked on this project for 6 months, and the last month, I almost lived at work since our Project Manager left on a 3-week cruise, so I was both leading BA team and performing project management -working with the vendor, communicating progress to executives, taking care of issues.
Out launch was a huge success, except for one hiccup. There was an issue with RSS feed for data import so we almost rolled back, and then I came up with a solution to point the section of the web site that was populated by the feed to the old site so that we can fix it as an emergency release, and we went live. I felt victorious! It was my first project of such magnitude, it was my first time in a dual role, and I felt that I saved the day. I was thinking about talking to Ankita who was the business analyst responsible for both RSS feed and the import of historic releases, the functionality that jeopardized the launch. Well, I felt excited and proud until the next morning.
In the morning, CIO issued an e-mail congratulating Ankita on a successful launch of the company site based on his conversation with her at the previous day event, our project sponsor announced a monetary award to both Ankita and the missing project manager who has not even come back from his long-term vacation, and my boss promoted Ankita to a full-time position with the company. My name was not mentioned anywhere. This was so unfair! I felt overlooked and unrecognized. I switched the department and eventually left the company. Meanwhile Ankita made a great career with this company, and within a few years became a manager, then a director, and as of now, a company VP.
Years after, I do not feel that I was overlooked or unfairly treated. While I learned this lesson firsthand and made it my primary responsibility as a manager to have people properly recognized and fairly appreciated , I now recognize our individual responsibility to "promote" ourselves and make our successes known. My mistake was to decide to skip the event with CIO to win 30 minutes of work time on the short-term problem. I did not recognize the chance, and it is no one's fault I paid for these 30 minutes with 6 months of hard work and hurt feelings and eventually my future with this employer. Recognize your chance and make use of it.
Sometimes I get the following question: if you do not get a chance, how to make it happen? There are multiple opportunities to ask questions at Townhalls and company events, to stop by and have a conversation at a company outing or a holiday party, to reach out with your ideas, to write an e-mail, or stop by their office (or ask their assistance to have an introductory meeting scheduled, depending on company policy). You can volunteer for a charity event or submit a blog on a company site, but whichever option you choose, do not go overboard and stay relevant. Otherwise, you will achieve an opposite effect. The following section describes things that can go wrong with your exposure.
3. How to use your chance?
In the sections above, we discussed the topics to share in this brief exposure: your name, role, your or your team's accomplishments, the best practices you introduced, your support of the most recent initiative, the feedback from customers, the hobby that you share - anything that is relevant. Just be brief, be prepared to listen and interact - and then build on what is happening. Most importantly, be mindful of not achieving the opposite effect to getting a chance with your executives.
What NOT to do? When you get an exposure to your company's executives, do NOT do the following:
1. Complain. Do not complain! This is not the venue. Come up with ideas, suggestions, feedback - this time is a great opportunity to achieve those objectives, but do not complain - about departments, people, vendors.
2. Discuss your manager. Do not discuss your manager. Any feedback is better when done directly. If your manager is violating any rules or showing disrespect to you, talk to them directly, then involve HR if needed. Your executives are not HR managers, so there is no reason to involve them in addressing HR issues.
3. Escalate. If there is a specific issue to be resolved, deal with it directly. If you cannot, bear in mind that once you share your issue with an executive, you escalate it to them for a follow up action. Do not try to deal with consequences of your escalation by saying "I did not mean for him/her to get fired". The moment you mentioned the issue with this person, to your business executive, you made a decision to escalate over several ranks of command, and this is a sign of mistrust to every manager on the ladder between you and this executive. If you did not mean it this way, either you are not smart enough or not telling the truth. In either case, don't ask for sympathy.
Getting exposure to your company's executive is a great chance which many new joiners miss without recognizing that they just passed on a great opportunity to be mentored and supported by senior executives. This opportunity can accelerate your career by years - don't miss it and once you get it, use it wisely!
About the Blog
The difference between our career advice site and many others on this topic comes from the fact that it is not written by a career consultant who has limited experience with achieving career growth in a professional environment. This site comes from an industry expert who achieved career progression step by step and learned the lessons that are now generously shared with you.
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