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How To Be Successful In Your First Job

You have your first job, and you are excited about this new opportunity. This is your first step in the world of work, which is a foot in the door, and immediately, you start imagining what your new office and team will be like.

But you also need to understand that there is no guarantee that you will make it past the probation period.

You are on your best behaviour to make a good impression and that will sometimes work (for the first few months). It is then that your employers are able to assess your performance on the job, which can either be positive or negative. The key is to know and build on your strengths while you simultaneously work to improve on your weaknesses.

The probation period allows both the employee and employer a grace period in which to decide if both parties are adding value to the other.

During the probation period you need to demonstrate that you are an asset to the company that you are employed to, and not a liability.

You will be scrutinized and tested to see your capabilities. Do your abilities align with what was stated on your resume? You want to be professional and consistently apply good work ethics, respect, and good manners.

Once you successfully get past the probation period and become a permanent employee, you become eligible for all the benefits that the position comes with. This now requires both parties to operate more responsibly. You will be required to continue to adhere to the company's policies and procedures and the company must demonstrate grounds for dismissal by following the guided labour laws on dismissals, e.g., verbal, written warning, then termination. The labour laws are in place to protect both employee and employer. It's wise to familiarize yourself with them as well as the company's policies.

It is important to remain focused on what is ultimately importantly - having a job, giving your best, operating professionally, avoiding distractions and negativity, being results focused and on completing your tasks and achieving the department and organisational goals.

Set goals for yourself but be guided by SMART! They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound.

Ensure that you respect the company's desired image. Review the dress code and conduct code.

Ask the human resources manager or your supervisor to guide you. Many things can distract you and prevent you from carrying out our duties.

Avoid office gossip and wasting time. Too often, people allow the negative behaviour or opinions of others to dictate their own. It is important to look at different perspectives and reverse the roles before you make a decision. Be a person of integrity. Let your word be your bond and demonstrate excellent work ethics. Present your best image and be respectful in your interactions with others. Practice good time, project, and people management.

Work on building relationships on the job and learn to network. You can accomplish far more with others than on your own. 'It is amazing how much you need to know to realize how much you don't know.'

Be humble in the fact that you don't know everything or have the answers for all things. Respect experience as it doesn't come overnight and there is much to learn.

How you dress is also key. It is recommended that you build an effective and workable wardrobe. If you can afford to, work with four jackets or two in neutral colours, four shirts/blouses, and four pants/skirts. The idea is to consider what you already have in your wardrobe before you purchase or have pieces made in order to complement them.


Utilize your darker colours with inserts of colour for shirts/blouses, then simply mix and match. Invest in a good black and dark grey suit to start.

You want to err on the side of caution and be more conservative with skirt length not exceeding 2.5" above the knee, properly fitting clothing, nothing too tight or revealing (both males and females). Ensure that your attire is clean and in good condition.

Here are some guidelines to follow during this very important probation period:

- Be on time.

- Get the job done to the best of your abilities.

- Have a positive attitude.

- Demonstrate professionalism in all you do.

- Take pride in how you present yourself.

- Learn every aspect of the job even if it's not in your job description.

- Document everything, use business correspondences to your advantage.

- Be responsible.

- Take advantage of all learning opportunities.

- Leave your personal problems at home.

- Know when to push versus pull.

The best way to lead is by example. Learn from everyone around you - your superiors and your peers. Build relationships with them, earn their trust, and then you'll have more influence and improve processes.

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