Some Basic Tips for the Beginning of Your Career Journey
For eighteen years I’ve been sitting across from job candidates at every level of position. At this point, I’m pretty good at figuring out individual motivation and, in many cases, predicting career tracks before some candidates even realize they are on one. Our most recent graduates who are entering the workforce certainly comprise a new breed. Their eagerness to share their personal views and expectations of the world has given me enough information to make a few suggestions.
For those of you who are one to three years into your career, I have a few considerations that may or may not be apparent for your first or even second jobs, but may have a great impact on your career.
Don’t take a position strictly on the basis of title or money.
Your first job is a down payment on your career; your time to explore the most gratifying learning experiences. Don’t be lured by a slightly higher salary or what seems a more impressive title if the responsibilities don’t seem to align with your plan for growth. It will quickly become a soul-deadening experience and certainly a skewed view of what your future may hold.
Look at the company’s culture.
Chances are slim that your presence will change it, so you’ll need to fit in. Good questions to ask: How did your boss get to where they are? What drives them? What work habits does the company recognize––smart solutions, following company protocol, long hours, new ideas, collaboration…? The answers will be very telling.
Understand your value.
We all ask about your career goals and the only right answer is the honest one, even if you’re not sure what they are. Most often we’re asking in order to get a better sense of whether or not your goals will help us realize ours. At the beginning, you can assume your value is your high energy, fresh perspective and willingness to help clear your boss’s work schedule so they can get to their own goals.
Be somewhat private.
Easy access to your personal information through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are making personal references obsolete. While the link to your personal life has changed, the rules have not. I once heard “Don’t post what you wouldn’t want your aunt to see.” It’s somewhat restrictive but from a career perspective, it’s sound advice.
Remember, business is personal.
Sometimes, the sparkle of success can be blinding but your reputation is all that you take on this journey. So protect your integrity and respect the integrity of those around you. Never allow yourself to be put into a business situation that would morally or ethically make you personally uncomfortable.