The world of work may seem like a different planet to someone who is starting it for the first time, with a whole new set of rules to learn and new challenges to overcome. Whether you are starting a new job or wondering about managing workplace relationships, alternative work options, or career change, you need some direction to overcome these obstacles.
How to succeed in a new job
Starting in a new job usually means you will have to pay your dues—which means proving that you have what it takes to succeed. This may involve doing work less exciting
and less challenging than you would like, and doing tasks you would prefer not to do. This is normal— everyone who came before you had to go through the same process when they started out too!
It is important to approach this stage with a positive attitude to make your job easier, and to make a better impression on those senior to you. You will be seen as a team player who understands and is committed to the bottom line, and who is not afraid to work hard. Some important general tips to keep in mind are listed below.
• Listen more than you talk. Listen to what more experienced people have to say before you add your opinion. The best impression is created by those who don’t say much, but when they do, people listen.
• When you complete an assignment, ask for another or suggest one for which you feel you are qualified.
• Keep references to experiences with your previous employer to a minimum.
• Always meet deadlines.
• If you don’t know an answer or how to complete an assignment, either ask someone or research the answer. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t know about something as long as you are willing to find out.
• Always arrive on time and don’t be the first person out the door at the end of the day.
• Don’t be afraid to make a mistake—we all make them. The key is to learn from our mistakes and to not repeat them.
• Make sure that you completely understand assignments. No one minds being asked questions to ensure understanding.
• Present solutions for problems and learn to be tactful and discreet.
• Have a vision. Know where you want to be in 18 months or in two years.
Know what is expected of you —
When starting a new position there are a number of things you will need to investigate early on. Be sure to clarify the organization’s policies and procedures (both formal and informal) regarding dress code, telephone use, hours of work, training, sick days, vacation, benefits, dealing with the media, and organizational hierarchy.
Print resources —
For more advice on succeeding in your new job, consult some of these resources online:
• Build your network with a LinkedIn account and start
sharing ideas, knowledge, and opportunities with your
• Seeking Success offers a variety of articles covering
subjects like mentors and success at work, home and
with family ► www.seekingsuccess.com
• Quintessential Careers offers excellent resources to
help with work-related issues ► www.quintcareers. Com
Interacting effectively with your supervisors and coworkers is crucial to your success in the workplace. Learning to effectively navigate office politics can be tricky, but is an essential skill, regardless of profession.
A mentor is typically someone who has more professional and personal life experience than yourself and can act as a guide, coach or adviser in helping you achieve your career goals. Often your mentor will be someone from your workplace, but in many cases, they can be a trusted friend, family member, previous supervisor, colleague, or teacher. Your mentor can assist you to assess your skills and interests, set goals, offer advice, and connect you with people who may help you move forward in your career.
What are your rights?
You may occasionally encounter behaviour or treatment from an employer or colleague that you feel is inappropriate or unfair. The best way to protect yourself is to know your rights and responsibilities.
Balancing work and personal life
In the first few months of your new job, it is normal to spend more time and energy adjusting to the new demands of your work. Once you feel more settled in your work, it is helpful to assess the multiple demands in your life and begin the process of managing them.
This process starts with an identification of the various elements in your life that are currently important to you.
These can include: work, volunteer work, social and professional clubs or associations, family, friends, interests, professional development courses, and personal time. Once you have created this list, prioritize in order of importance. Next, determine how many hours in a week are used for work and how many hours you have remaining for personal pursuits. Use this personal time to explore the items you have prioritized. While you may not be able to incorporate all of the personal interests you’ve identified, this process can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and can effectively allow you to balance your work and personal interests.
• The Working Moms Refuge can be a place for career
moms to escape from their juggling act and find
support and advice on how to balance career and
family life ► www.momsrefuge.com/index.html
• For those struggling with time management, this
website can help you budget your time more effectively
Alternative work options
There are a number of alternatives to the traditional fulltime job, including telecommuting, job-sharing, and even starting your own business. Working Solo, Inc. is a website full of resources for the home-based telecommuter, consultant, freelancer, or business owner.
Find resources, information
tips, links, and more ► www.workingsolo.com
Personal financial planning
There are no hard and fast rules for financial planning since every situation and set of circumstances are unique. However, there are a number of general guidelines you may wish to follow.
Career change or job loss
Whether intentionally or not, the prospect of career change is something everyone has to deal with throughout their careers. In recent years, career changes have accelerated to the point where the average worker can expect to change careers at least five times. The key to dealing with change will be preparation, including a flexible career plan and well developed skills.
Online resources — For articles on career change, try
Monster ► http://change.monster.ca and Quintessential
Careers ► www.quintcareers.com/career_change.html.
The Changing Course website is designed to give you
the resources, tools, and inspiration you need to follow
your dreams of a more fulfilling life doing what you love.
Source: Career Center University of Toronto.