Vital Tips to Surviving Your First Job

Whether your first “real” job is scooping ice cream or running for Davis City Council, there are some common mis-steps you’re going to want to avoid if you ever wish to get a second job. HuffPo has some great suggestions about how to leave your ego at the door, and put on your best “Yes, ma’am” smiley face.

Dress to impress—your boss, not Lady Gaga.
What they tell you: Dress for the job you want.
What they don’t: Appearance isn’t everything, but it can definitely tip the scale in one way or another. If you’re already the star on your team, being well dressed is just another thing that makes you great. It’s the most visible way to prove to your boss that you get it. But if you’re going way over the top (or way under the radar), you’ll seem out of sync. Not good!

Timing is everything.
What they tell you: Ask questions!
What they don’t: Make sure it’s a good time—especially if the issue can wait. Say you’re not a morning person. How would you feel if you awoke to your boss standing over your bed, barraging you with complicated questions before you could even fully open your eyes? That’s how it can feel to a superior when you walk into her office trying to get information when she’s swamped, or asking for answers you could have gotten from someone more junior. Most folks want to help, but if you wait until, say, after they’ve gotten off the conference call with the London office, they’ll have more time and attention to provide the answers you need.

There is a cone of social silence.
What they tell you: From LinkedIn profiles to attention-grabbing blogs, internet presence can help you land a job or climb the ladder at the one you already have.
What they don’t: Keep private company issues away from social media. Even if you don’t name names, discussing workplace politics on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Reddit can get you fired. Save any venting for in-person gatherings with friends—a great reason for a coffee date!

Don’t make the same mistake twice.

What they tell you: Whether you forgot to add pickles or booked the wrong flight for a colleague, mistakes happen to everyone.
What they don’t: Sweeping them under the rug (or sulking with your tail between your legs) can make a bad situation worse. The best way to manage goof-ups? Own up, correct the problem as quickly as possible, and most important, try not to let the same thing happen the next time around.

Good bosses are like coaches.
What they tell you: Seek mentors.
What they don’t: A mentor is not (always) a cheerleader: The best ones offer constructive criticism in order to make you the best you can be. And just as in sports, the right one can mean the difference between being mediocre and being legendary. Before Gabby Douglas became the first African-American in history to win Olympic gold for the all-around individual competition in gymnastics, she specifically sought out the coach who had nurtured fellow gymnast Shawn Johnson to victory. And during all those years of back-breaking practices, you can bet he didn’t stand there applauding every little move.

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