10 Workplace Tips for Recent Grads
Landing your first job is an incredibly exciting milestone, but it also opens up a whole new world of unfamiliar situations that can be tricky to navigate. Here are a few things we’ve learned from experience that we wish we’d known when we first entered the workforce.
Negotiate your salary
Your starting salary will have a big impact on your overall earnings potential (or how long it takes you to get there), since you’ll need to work your way up from this figure at that company. Do your research before accepting an offer and make a case for why you should earn your fair share based on the market average for your industry.
Speak up in every meeting you attend.
You are there for a reason, so make your voice heard! When you’re brand new, this can feel very intimidating, but a good trick is to prepare a few talking points ahead of time so you have something in your back pocket to contribute.
Document your success.
File away your accomplishments in a folder on your desktop or within your email inbox so that when it comes time for your annual review, you can easily showcase the great work you’ve been doing. If your company doesn’t have a formal review process, you’ll still need to arm yourself with this kind of information when seeking a raise or promotion.
Proofread everything multiple times.
When you feel ready to send a document or email to your superiors or clients, review it three more times: once to make sure everything you’re saying makes sense in a concise way, twice for spelling and grammar issues, and a final time just in case you missed something. These little efforts can go a long way in proving how detail-oriented you are (or not).
Command professional email etiquette.
This is about striking the right balance. You should always be as courteous as possible, but you don’t want to get written off as someone young and inexperienced by being too bubbly. Always express your appreciation for those who are helping you out but save the three exclamation points and emojis for the group chat.
Own your inexperience.
When you are in an entry-level position, you aren’t expected to know all the answers! Show you made the effort to find your own solution or seek out more instruction when you’re truly lost. It doesn’t make you look weak to say something to the effect of, “I’ve taken a stab at this to the best of my ability, but I’d love your feedback on how to make it stronger since this is my first time delivering a report on XYZ.”
Be visible to senior leadership.
Look for opportunities to grab coffee or find a few minutes between meetings to “pick their brain.” Showing an eagerness to learn and being proactive in seeking out face time with those who have more experience is essential to getting ahead. Don’t hide behind email all day.
Set your boundaries.
Decide what work-life balance means to you and then do your best to stick to it. Some industries are more notorious for requiring a lot of grunt work and long hours in the early years, so make sure you’re willing to commit to that ahead of time. If you set a precedent that you’re the girl who always answers email around the clock, don’t be surprised if people come to always expect that of you.
Take a vacation.
And we mean the kind where you can really unplug! This is so important for avoiding burnout. Don’t fall trap to the mindset that you have too many responsibilities or that it would “inconvenience” everyone else. The rest of your team functioned without you before you started your job, and with proper notice, they can get by without you for a few days now too.
Find a mentor.
This should be someone you trust enough to confide in and who knows you well enough to advocate for you. Not sure how to prove yourself to colleagues that you’ve just met? Figure out how you can help them and then do what you can to make their lives easier. People will be eager to vouch for you if they can see the value you bring firsthand.
Erin Cornell is a twenty-something communications professional and aspiring blogger living in Boston, still trying to figure out this whole “adulting” thing. Follow along to read more of her wellness, style and career advice geared towards millennial women.