Advice For Your First Job (and throughout your career)

This spring a new crop of college grads will hit the business marketplace. Some fortunate soon-to-be grads already have their first job lined up. Many others will be scrambling in the coming weeks and months. Others will chill for an extended period. Everyone finds their own way.

In any event, here are some thoughts for those who are entering the workforce, though it applies to anyone starting a new position, regardless of your years in business. In a previous Struming I wrote about notes you don’t have to write. I commented that in addition to notes on anniversaries I also wrote welcome notes to new employees as well. In my welcome notes I would scribble thoughts to the new employee about the qualities I believed would lead them to success at our company or elsewhere. Again, the handwritten note had impact because it was something that could be retained.Milan welcome note

That same fellow Milan Martin who kept my notes that I mailed to his home, also kept my hand-written comments on his welcome note too, shown here. In it I encouraged him in 4 ways:

1. Work hard

Effort isn’t the only thing that matters in business. Results are paramount. But there is a direct correlation between effort and results.

2. Never lie

On one hand this seems kind of obvious. Most of us (other than The Donald) do not lie instinctively. We think of ourselves as honorable. But I can tell you first hand that there are times when the pressure is on, that there’s a human trait to tell “white lies” as Hope Hicks would say. Covey calls this Integrity at the Moment of Choice. Maybe it’s lying through omission of key info. Alas, that’s the same as lying. As they say if you don’t lie you don’t have to remember your “story”.

3. Always be dependable

Be known as the person who you can always count on. Even when overwhelmed, dependable people find a way to get it done. And smart managers ultimately find a way to promote these folks.

4. Do more than what’s asked of you.

This one is key. Take the initiative. If you are merely an order taker waiting for the assignment, you will be paid as an order taker. Think. Do more. Anticipate.

And though they weren’t in the 4 pieces of advice that I gave Milan many moons ago, here are 3 more to live by:

1. Give selflessly, without an explicit quid pro quo.

Don’t be a doormat, but it’s more than OK to help others when they have need. It will come back to you, I promise.

2. Be positive

Downers are bummers. They can suck the life out of a team. Don’t let that be you.

3. Don’t call your boss an “f-in moron” in front of others.

Even if he/she is one, there’s no percentage in spouting your evaluation in front of others, lest the boss find out about your comment and then fires you on twitter.

Thanks again Milan for hanging on to my missives of yesteryear, and more importantly, living the advice.

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