Your First Week on the Job

Common First Job Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Landing your first job is an exciting moment because it marks the beginning of your professional career. But although it may seem like the hard part is over once you have your offer letter in hand, it’s important to be aware of the challenges you’ll face when starting a new job and to avoid the mistakes that can come along with it.

Here are three common mistakes that many people make in their first jobs.

1. Relying on yourself for guidance

You’re not expected to be perfect in your role from the get-go, especially at such an early stage of your career, so don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask for help from your managers and peers when you need it. Although it’s important to develop knowledge on your own, learning from higher-ups who have more experience is a great way to build your skills and knowledge effectively.

Fostering a mentorship with a trusted work colleague can also prove to be extraordinarily beneficial to your development. The best way to do this is by finding a co-worker (ideally someone who’s been in the same role or a similar role to yours) and asking them to go out for a mid-day coffee or after-work drinks. Learn about how this person came into the company, pick their brain on how they approach their work and get a good sense of your expected work-life balance. As your relationship grows and develops, rely on your new mentor for advice during challenging times or when navigating uncharted territory.

2. Underestimating the importance of grunt work

Your new career is likely to start in an entry-level position, which unfortunately comes with “grunt work” such as number-crunching, running reports and other tasks that your superiors don’t have the time or bandwidth to take on. While grunt work isn’t anything you can brag about to your friends, it’s an incredible opportunity to dive deeper into learning about your company while proving to your manager that you’re reliable and trustworthy. The best way to approach grunt work is to take what you can from it and use those tasks to grow your skill set. For example, if you’re building and running reports, it’s important to get an understanding of why the reports are important and gain as many insights as you can from them.

Pro Tip: Although it may seem like senior members of the team focus only on the most important tasks, the truth is that every position (including your manager’s position) involves some level of grunt work. By accepting this as a reality of professional life and making the most of it, you’ll be sure to impress your manager and to really grow into your role.

3. Expecting praise and promotions to come easily

Although being praised for a job well done is something we all aspire to, the reality is that much of what you’ll do in your first job (or any job) is about being patient and proving yourself. This means accepting new tasks enthusiastically, asking for feedback and not getting discouraged if your first attempt at a project doesn’t go as planned. By approaching your new job with a growth mindset and accepting praise graciously when it is given, you’ll be showing your manager that you’re there to learn and add value to the team, something that is much more likely to lead to a rewarding experience and a promotion down the line.

First job mistakes are a natural part of getting used to the professional world and chances are that you’ll make some mistakes no matter how careful you are. However, by anticipating common mistakes before they happen and learning how to resolve them, you’re likely to succeed in your new role and to impress your manager.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Tell if an Interview Went Well and find answers to common interview questions such as Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?