As many college graduates and school leavers enter the workforce in Dublin and Ireland for the first time, this blog post provides 5 career guidance tips to help them (the advice applies to others as well) navigate and excel in their career.
1. Hit the Ground Running
From day one, you should do everything you can to add value to your employer. Nobody in your company is interested in fancy degrees or great results in exams; they are only interested in what value you can add. At the early stage of your career, you may have a more limited range of practical skills but you can compensate for that by becoming full entrenched in your role. You can do this by learning everything about your role, your company, the market they operate in etc. Push yourself to learn whatever skills your company need you to know as quickly and effectively as possible.
2. There will be setbacks
Your career is unlikely to be linear and there will be setbacks. If an internship, project or task didn’t go so well, don’t be too hard on yourself – bounce back and focus on your next step. Evaluate why something didn’t work out and then try to correct it for the future. So long as you tried your best and worked diligently, you will most likely get other opportunities in your current role or elsewhere.
3. Think Ahead
You should start thinking about what you want to be in one, two, five or even ten years’ time and the steps that you need to take to get there. It’s easy to get side-tracked by small day-to-day tasks or overwhelmed by stressful situations when you are unsure of what you want to achieve. Your goals should be specific. A great way to put extra pressure on yourself to pursue your goals is to write them down, share them with some other people and start taking steps (even small steps will suffice) to achieve them. Commitments that are most effective are those that are active, effortful, public and voluntary.
4. Job Hunting – Help others before first asking for their help
One of the biggest networking mistakes is going to industry events and asking every person you meet to help you get a new job. Some of these people can probably help you to get a new job but they are not your friends and they will only help if there is something in it for them. Once you know who can help you, find out what they do in and out of work and how you can help them. Then, offer to help them and if they let you help, this will activate the norm of reciprocation (i.e. if I do something for you, you will feel obliged to do something back for me). It also gives you the opportunity to show that person that you won’t let them down if they risk their reputation to help you get a job.
5. Learn to Sell
Don’t be deceived, we’re not talking about becoming a sales rep but you have to learn to sell your ideas, work, expertise and vision. Whether it is the project discussions, salary negotiations, performance reviews, your ability to sell will play a huge factor in determining whether you get what you want.