I don’t think I know a person who hasn’t at some point in their career said something along the lines of “man, I wish I knew THAT when I was starting out”.
One of those annoying things about life is that you can’t actually go back in time (unless you’re Dr Who) so for all of us old career types, we can’t really change the beginning of our career.
But for all you fresh faced newbies, guess what? There’s hope 🙂
Weigh up your Options Carefully
If you’re like a lot of people that aren’t really sure what you want to do, that’s okay – but make sure when something does come along that you carefully weigh up your options. This starts before you even go to university – a lot of careers require very specific qualifications, so be careful in your choices or be prepared to do further study.
Trust your Gut
First impressions are really important. Often when you’re just starting out and having interviews it’s tempting to jump at the first thing that comes your way – even if your first impression wasn’t a good one.
Listen to what instinct is telling you! The role may actually be a good fit, but don’t be afraid to ask for a second look. Your first role is vital in establishing your career and you want to be sure that it will shape your experience in a good way.
When you’re starting out it can be tempting to try and make yourself look more experienced or knowledgeable than you are. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. At the beginning of your career it’s important to try and soak up as much knowledge as possible, so ask, ask ask!
Change Roles for the Right Reasons
I’m going to make a statement – no job will ever make you feel “wealthy”. There are jobs that will pay well, but jumping from role to role simply in search of money won’t offer you what you want or ultimately need.
Money is certainly helpful, but when you’re starting out it’s more important to focus on what a role can offer your skills and professional development. Continuously enhancing these areas will naturally result in a great pay check when you do have the experience to back it up.
From experience working in recruitment I can guarantee that employers don’t like to hire (or often even interview) people whose CV’s show that they’ve jumped around a lot (i.e. less than a year in each role).
When you start out, there will inevitably be a certain amount of being somebody’s lackey. You will have to put in more hours than some of the more senior people around you and do tasks that weren’t in your wish list. BUT remember that balance in your life is important.
By all means, put in what you have to to ensure that you get where you want to be, but also take time for yourself, your family and enjoying life. If you don’t, you will inevitably burn out or grow to hate your job.
Efficiency at your job is a learned skill but it starts from being organised. This means learning how to properly plan out your days, weeks, months, quarters and years. Knowing what needs to be completed by when and having it in a physical / computerised list takes the stress out of keeping it all in your head.
Presenting yourself as an organised person also makes a great impression on your superiors, so it can’t hurt to develop good habits.
It’s easy to say “but I have heaps of time to save money!” and put off starting that nest egg till you’re much older, but saving from early on makes a huge difference to how long your career, by necessity lasts.
Start saving (or investing for your future) as early as possible. Put aside money every single week from the very beginning, buy property or invest early and you won’t have as much stress in your life when you are ready to retire (or may be able to retire earlier).
Don’t be Afraid to Change
If it’s not working or making you happy, don’t be afraid to make a change (as long as you’ve given the career path a genuine chance – i.e. a year or so). Even if this means re-qualifying. If you know deep down in your gut that you can’t do this for the rest of your working life, then it’s better to change sooner, rather than later.