Your tenacity paid off, your attention to your resume works wonders, your responses to the interviewers seem plausible, the way you carry yourself during the interview were convincing, your voice modulation saying that you are confident and voila! You secured a job that you wanted (at least at that moment). You jumped so high that you could touch your house ceiling! Congratulations graduates! I still remember my own moments when I secured a job, it felt so grown up and excited. I told my mum and dad that I can now pay my own petrol and transport. #grin So what next?
How to stay on the job? What to do to get to the next level? When is the right time to showcase your skills? Why your degree has little meaning to workplace? Why it is not important to “be yourself” when starting out? Do you want to be at the next level, faster?
I wish to offer 5 things for you to consider “be” that may guarantee your next promotion in the next 4-5 years after you secured your first job professionally:
- Be Hardworking
At the beginning of anyone’s career, you should consider looking for great experience over great salary. Great work experience will make you do multi things (yes you become multi-tasker). You prepare report, make sales calls, go networking events, lead company’s family day and write report again. Sound busy? Yes you should be. Although you may not see the relevance (yet), you will gain because people started to know you and you start to notice varieties of characters and people around you as well. This is important.
Volunteer to do all these activities around your workplace if you can physically and be positively motivated when doing it. Being motivated is the only difference between being hardworking compared to being overworked. Your bosses will start to notice your face is almost everywhere. You get what we called “attention”.
For those of you that usually skip the university’s events and persatuans, you missed out these moments at that time. Therefore you should take the advantage to pick up again these “getting attention” skills at the beginning of your career.
- Be Trustworthy
Okay, so you are hardworking and volunteer in a lot of things around your company therefore you are about to walk on thin ice. So you made some mistakes in some of the things you do? The tips is to be honest about your shortfalls and how would you make it differently next time. It is ok to look vulnerable or “weak” because you apologize.
The good news is you project trustworthiness in you to the people around. You will be seen as more open to ideas and feedbacks, this deepen your relationship with co-workers and managers. Remember, trust takes time to develop, you have to invest in it.
For female graduates, don’t beat yourself up so much. Don’t over exaggerate the situation if you make mistakes. It’s enough to just say sorry and “it will not happen again in the future.” For male graduates, learn to say sorry too and please don’t blame others for your own mistakes.
- Be Resilient
True, there are times things just get so difficult. Not to mention, you received harassment from some dungus, that’s normal. Life’s like that and by knowing this you need to endure it. What is resilient? From Wiki it means, “Able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.” So after all the gruelling, you still stand tall and chin up. Like what Michelle Obama said, “When people make you feel so low, you don’t stoop to their level. You go high!”
In the course of your 4-5 years during your initial working career, resilient is key for the top management to observe your endurance. Some corporate projects can take 3-4 years to complete therefore the top management is keen with someone that can take things through thick and thin of situation. Corporate projects are such as opening new branch in new country, implementing new system or lead new business area or products. In the absence of knowledge and experience, resilient is your currency for exchange.
If you are a leading a team, try to motivate your team to be as resilient as you, more is better. Have conversation with them if you find them lagging behind or dragging their feet to work. It is not ok to be seen as one-man-show whilst you actually have a team with you. Bring them along with you.
- Be Resourceful
Whenever, whenever you feel you don’t know things your boss asking you to do, you either ask him directly for clarification or google it. Say after you asked, and you still don’t quite get it, you can google it too. Find information online and ask smart questions – specific and to the point.
I remember one time when I had to organize company’s event and I was asked to find media contacts, I said yes to my boss. I googled and found few contacts online, but it wasn’t enough because we targeted 10 media companies to cover our event in their publication. I presented to my boss and said I only managed to get three. You know what? He said, “Good job! I could see you tried hard. Now here’s the whole list!” Yayyy!!
Although you are a project manager, you must know that decision making of the project still has to be discussed with you supervisor, superior, manager or boss. This little known tips could help you build lasting relationship with your upline. Some younglings excitedly make all the decisions without enough consultation, they are in for the trouble. Therefore, being resourceful means that your tentacles reach out to information fast enough and your problem solving ability is above average. Yet, when it comes to decision making, make sure it is a consensus with the team (including your upline).
- Be Knowledgeable
This is where power reading comes in. Not reading Facebook comments, I mean reading thick book (150 pages above), cover to cover. Some magazines considered reading as well such as Fast Company, The Economist, Bloomberg, MIT Sloan and so on. Reading help you imagine the future you never experienced. For graduates, choose your materials widely.
Read magazines, real books (on management, creativity, science, fiction and so on) and please make yourself available to training programs. I found reading autobiography enjoyable – bios I’ve read are Arnold Schwazenegger, Sidney Poitier, Kuan Yew, Alex Ferguson, Tun Mahathir, Mydin, Boon Siew, Jay Z Gandhi, Jack Welch, Prophet Muhammad, Hamka and many more.
It is ok to sound smart when you converse with your boss or colleagues. It helps your maturity and boost your confidence level when talking to someone when you know you are knowledgeable. Nonetheless, it is not okay if you pretend to be smart. Trying to goreng things you don’t know have its own limit – worse off when people can catch it. Being knowledgeable sometimes will make people around you feel threatened, do it anyway. Simply because when you become a big fish in a small pond, time to make that jump to bigger pond or go to the ocean instead.
I believe many of seniors and professionals would agree with me the 5 tips above. There are many more of course, I found the above suffice for you to do and practice in the next 1-3 years of your initial career. If you still get stuck you can write me an email, we can take it offline. Maybe you need different help.
I found male and female graduates are wired differently (of course!). One thing in common I wish to emphasis is to not get overly obsessed to “be yourself”. You can be yourself when you are in private settings or in family environment where people can tolerate “yourself” over and over again. However, in public place or social setting, people are impatient and have very high expectation of each other (although each other know their own insecurities).
Therefore as someone that’s climbing the work ladder, open up yourself to be more accepting others’ and adjust yourself necessarily. Being overly yourself is akin to break the coconut too early to enjoy the coconut juice. Give yourself time to learn about others and pay attention on how you respond and react to those moments – soon you will learn more about yourself, really.
I wish you beshh of luck. Any brickbats please send to firstname.lastname@example.org