Advice » In the Workplace» Starting a New Job » Make the Most of Your First J ...
Make the Most of Your First Job

Make the Most of Your First Job

As you step into your first postgrad work experience, there are a lot of things you need to know that your textbooks didn't teach you over the past four years. Here is what you should be gleaning from your first adventure in the world of work.   

Your First Job Is Not Your Destiny

Your first job in no way predicts where you will ultimately end up. Talk to any mid-career worker, and you will be shocked where his career began. Your main task on your first job is to test your wings, learning how organizations work, how business gets done, and what makes people and organizations successful. Remember: Career (not job) changes are in your future as you learn, grow and change.

Watch Your Attitude

One of the biggest complaints about new college grads is that they often expect too much too soon and come across as thinking they know more than seasoned employees. Know that you will need to earn your stripes, as well as the trust of colleagues and supervisors, before being given more responsibility. Especially watch your attitude with support staff so as not to come across as arrogant or condescending.

Learn About the Various Kinds of Power and Influence

Observe how the staff members interact with each other and how things get done. Who really calls the shots, compared with what the organizational chart says? Who seems to have more power than might be indicated by his job title? Who is looked up to, admired and why? How are decisions made: top down, bottom up or a combination of the two?

Figure Out the Organizational Culture

Pay attention to the behaviors and results valued in your organization. Also, find out what the company stands for. Ask what the organization's mission statement is and how it is different from the competition's. Do you get a feeling of teamwork? What are the written and unwritten rules? What kinds of people seem successful, and why?

Know Yourself

Your first job is a chance for you to learn more about yourself, what you're good at, what you're not and what work you prefer and enjoy. Pay attention to others' body language as they come in contact with you; this will help you understand how others respond to you. Observe the kinds of people who energize you and, alternatively, the types who drain you. Pay attention to the types of management styles that bring out the best in you.

Build Skills

Understand the new work paradigm is that you, not the organization, are in charge of your career. Gone are the days when the organization takes responsibility for moving you along from first job to retirement. Your task is to make a contribution to the company and develop skills you can take with you when it's time to leave.

What are some good ways to build skills? Volunteer for interesting projects, and keep your eyes open for any professional-development opportunities both within and outside the organization. Keep a skills portfolio folder, and as you learn, develop or demonstrate a skill, write it down and stick it in that file.

Ask for Regular Feedback, and Keep a Compliments File

Even if it's not part of the protocol, ask for a three-month and/or a six-month performance review. Stay on top of how well you are meeting expectations, and nip any problem areas in the bud. Always ask how you can improve your performance.

Put any compliments you receive, written or verbal, in a file, including any good work evaluations. You can use these comments for impact in both future cover letters and job interviews.

Read Internal Job Postings

Internal job postings can be used as a way of understanding the breadth of work done in the organization and other positions that might interest you down the road, either there or somewhere else. Pay particular attention to understanding the job requirements.

Articles in This Feature:

Latest Jobs

Posted: 06/29/2015
Upper Marlboro, MD, 20772
Catalyst Career Group
Posted: 06/29/2015
Lubbock, TX, 79424
Posted: 06/29/2015
Windsor, CT, 06095
Posted: 06/29/2015
Buffalo, NY, 14201
Posted: 06/29/2015
Arlington, MA, 02174

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.12.0.54-309