Devon’s First Day of Work – What is Your Story? ( #postgradlife #jobhunt #firstjob #graduation2015 )

Handsome man in business attire
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Devon was so excited to have a job offer come through. Best email ever received!   All the work he had put into college was finally paying off. He will have enough money to buy more than a burrito at Chipotle, books and beer money.   He was eligible for a car loan without a cosigner, and could pick up his first new car next week. Aahh – it will be nice to have a “real” grownup apartment away from campus too! Once he gave his verbal to the recruiter before Spring break, he thought he could cruise for a while and enjoy springtime on campus.

Last week, more emails began to roll in from his new employer. Every time he opened them, he felt apprehensive.  His parents had helped him to fill out that monster form for the FAFSA, but this seemed worse. The company sent documents weekly and expected a response right away. He felt like he was agreeing to terms at the new company that he didn’t understand, and wondered how it would affect him later.

Devon’s story may sound very familiar to you. It certainly reflected my story. I remember sitting down with a HR representative who gave me a pen and said “sign here”!  The only explanation provided was either “you have no choice” (code of conduct policy), or, “this one will be good for you” (enrolling into a 401K plan).

At some point we all start out in an entry-level position and meet new people and are handed new assignments. The first time you start a “real” job is the most unsettling.   Your career may begin working in an office, a laboratory, or a shop floor.  Perhaps you accepted a position as  a sales representative, or an account manager, or working in a retail environment.   There is common ground.  We need to communicate well.  We have to work in teams. We are expected to perform.  We have profit and loss responsibilities for business, or may even be given the responsibility for someone’s life.  The consequences of improper action could be serious.   What if I do the wrong thing, and will I even know?

Graduates are trained with skills in an area of study, but understanding company work rules and the complexities of coworker relationships will be new.  In my experience with interns and new hires, here are some common questions I encounter:

From Devon:

  • When can I have a day off of work?
  • Am I allowed to talk to employees outside of my department?
  • What is my assignment and when is it due?

From the hiring manager:

  • Why doesn’t Devon respond to emails?
  • How much time do I need to spend with him the first week?
  • What work shall I give him to get started, without overwhelming him?

Likely, everyone will be a little nervous.  Many companies have new-hire training programs.   However, no one can really predict or train on how department relationships and work assignments will be managed – each situation is unique.  My advice to the new hire –  be friendly, ask questions regarding what is expected of you, get busy right away, and listen closely.

I invite you to join the LinkedIn Group called First Job After College, and share your experiences regarding funny “First Day” stories, or ask questions about what to expect on your first day, and receive advice from experienced workers.

About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html

How To Choose A Career Book

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There are thousands of career books on the market in the self-help category.  We often read books about how to achieve something we desire: I want to be 20 lbs lighter, I wish I had a high-paying job, or I want to have less stress in my life.   We gravitate to the ideal state and want to read about what it will be like when we get there.  I suggest that the best chance for eventually realizing this dream, is to start from where you are today, taking one step at a time.  The book you need is the one that gets you started.
Many of us are looking for tips  on how to advance in our career, find a new job, or become a better manager. A book with high impact will stress slow but steady improvements, starting with the job or skills that you have right now.

To find the right book, I suggest a quick self assessment:
1) What job do I have today? 
Are you an individual contributor or a manager of others?  How many years of work experience do you have?  What would be the next likely move for you?  If you are in an entry-level position, then reading a book intended for C-Suite executives may leave you confused about how to improve productivity and performance in your cubicle tomorrow morning.  If you are a mid-level manager, then you already come with a set of your own experiences which may go beyond the author’s recommendations.
2) What problems are you having at work today?
Take some time to study your environment at work.  Do you feel your place of employment or the people you are working with are holding you back?  Are you holding yourself back? Often our thoughts about others and our work location can give us the biggest tips on what we need to concentrate on personally.  How can a personal change impact the way I am viewed or treated at the company?   By exploring this line of questioning,  you probably can quickly identify what work skills need improvement.  If your desk at work looks like my teenage son’s bedroom, search for books about organization, productivity and time management.  If you are having trouble connecting to coworkers, search for books on teamwork and continuous improvement.  Identify what appears to be an external problem, and then internalize it.
3) What kind of learner am I?
Do you like short stories or thoughtful reads in small print?  Do you like the theory or fact-based evidence about success, or would you prefer light stories?  Would you enjoy reading about how others achieved success, or do you want the author to talk directly to you? The book that you are most likely to finish, is probably the right purchase for you, even if it is slightly off-topic.  You will retain the material and find something to take away, if you enjoyed reading it.
Congratulations!  Just by doing this short assessment, you have taken the first step  forward in your career.  You have identified what you want to work on, and can begin to search book titles.  I suggest reading a preview for each book where the title appeals to your situation while keeping in mind the type of style you desire.  Most booksellers allow you to read the first few pages for free, and you can determine the style, tempo and subject matter from what the author leads with in the first few pages.  That is how I wrote my book.   If the preview is short and to the point, the book will be to.  If the preview is personable or thought provoking,  so will be the next 20 chapters.
Good luck and connect with me online!

About Joyce Jarek:
Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html

Coming Soon – Last Three Best Workdays of the Year, Improve #cubiclelife #worklife , #Career and #productivity

December 2014 Calendar highlighting last three days
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Happy Holidays to all of my readers! Congratulations – you made it through the work year and accomplished your goals.  Given how Christmas and Hanukah fall on the 2014 calendar, it is tempting to extend winter break from now until January 5th. However, opportunity and award awaits those who save their paid time off for the months ahead and trek down to the office.

Let’s look at the top five productivity metrics for the last three workdays of the year:

  1. Less traffic lightens the commute. If you typically leave at 7:30am and return home at 6:00, this 10.5 hour day can likely shrink to 9.5 hour day with a 10% gain in your personal life.
  2. Few or No Meetings – do you celebrate when a meeting ends 15 minutes early because you just gained back 3% of your workday? Your calendar will be refreshingly clear and calm – offering more time to organize, clean up your work area and clear your head for the new year.
  3. Your employer will likely gift you with an opportunity to leave early on New Years Eve.  You can get paid for 100% of the workday with 75% of the effort.
  4. Reduce your unread or unanswered emails by 100%. Create a folder in Outlook named “Respond Soon” and add any issues to Task lists that can’t be resolved because your coworkers are out.  You can address them after January 5th.
  5. If you receive 100 emails a day, and 25% are daily email subscriptions, you can cut out 9,125 clicks in 2015 by taking an extra moment to unsubscribe from email notifications. Removal of these unhelpful distractions will allow you to concentrate on what matters going forward.

If these three performance-enhancing days can improve your overall well-being, then fill the new coffee mug up with a jolt of caffeine, pack a light lunch (not a bad time to start that diet), and immerse yourself into the serenity of your quiet work world.

Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1, Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates. To purchase, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html