Q. I have the job. Now what? I have seen too many of my friends get laid off or fired. They don’t know why or say they don’t. I don’t want that to happen to me. I am excited about my new job but I have never had a “real” job before.
A. Successful job seekers have been focused on every aspect of the job search. Develop a great resume, enhance a LinkedIn profile, meet new networking contacts, interview like a pro, and negotiate a great compensation package. Once you accept that offer and start your new, job life is easy. But that’s not the way it really happens. Derailers are those many tracks employees take that lead to some level of failure – even separation from the organization. The answer to your question and many like it are most often learned by years of experience, and too often by mistakes.
What many people consider the basics of arriving on time, being dressed “appropriately,” and asking questions as needed, are not universally understood. Is 15 minutes late or time enough? Do you leave 10 minutes early or stay late? Do you know what the company does? You may not know what the job is yet, but you should know the business of the company does. Research is too easy to skip this step, and yet many employees don’t have a good understanding of what the business does and how their role impacts success.
Do you know how to follow directions? And can you ask clarifying questions to ensure you do what is asked of you? Employers who are dealing with young and inexperienced employees need to develop an onboarding program that supports learning how to be a good employee, not just information on how to do the job. Until that happens, new employees need to learn it on their own.
To make that learning happen, read Gorick Ng’s new book that will be available later this month, The Unspoken Rules – Starting Your Career Off Right, to get the answers to all the questions a new grad or someone starting a new job needs to know. This is a must-buy as a gift for someone starting an internship, summer job, or their first professional job.
I have heard too many managers ask “what were they thinking?” when a new employee does something perceived as “not smart,” when it is often a lack of training, a lack of experience, and a lack of understanding of risk that leads an employee to take an undesired action. Ng is a career advisor at Harvard University working with first-generation and low income students who often lack the opportunity to develop job search or work habits early in their lives. His clear, concise, accessible advice will be valuable to anyone who wants to advance their career, whether they are a part-time store clerk, or joining a Fortune 500 company.
The Job Doc can’t do a better job than Ng did addressing what you need to know before you go to work. It’s only complicated when you don’t know the rules, and you don’t know that you need to manage yourself, your behavior, your attitude, and your level of commitment to learn the rules.