What Are the Biggest Mistakes I Should Avoid in My First Job?

What Are the Biggest Mistakes I Should Avoid in My First Job?

I just started my first job after graduating with my degree. What are the biggest mistakes or misconceptions I should avoid when managing this first position? – Harmony in Springdale, Newfoundland


Harmony, what a great question. Here is my take on the top three mistakes or misconceptions you want to avoid. These three pitfalls are common in first jobs. Rather than a short-term approach, you want to look towards the horizon.

The first hazard is to consider the job as a stepping-stone or interim position. The resulting underlying attitude demonstrated is laissez faire at best about the position and organization. Young people are missing a tremendous learning opportunity when they do not enthusiastically engage at work. In addition, they are squandering this moment to build connections and relationships. And they may be poisoning the well with their disengaged, lackluster approach at work. Every position provides an incomparable advantage to build your personal network. The stronger the foundation, the longer it will last. Eventually, who you know – and the relationships you have established and nurtured – will be a tremendous resource.

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The second big mistake young people make in managing their first few jobs is to overshare. Keep in mind, they come from a generational cohort where sharing every detail about your life is the norm. They have not developed the filters they need in a professional environment. More than that, they often do not recognize the need for filters, nor do they appreciate the filters others have put in place. Perception is powerful, and establishing early that you are discreet and trustworthy sets you apart in the workplace.

The third misconception of young people is they are apt to engage in a belief that they know better, with their fresh education and fingertips on the pulse of current events. It’s a tremendous asset to bring new ideas into an organization and test the paradigm. But at the same time, the sense that experience and realities of on-the-job nuances are not meaningful can be a killer. Every new generation comes in with this feeling of being better, smarter, and more capable. I, for one, welcome new ideas and approaches. It leads to breakthroughs. However, young people need to recognize a simple fact: When they look behind the current, they find most of the disruptive and innovative advances are being driven by a team that consists of experienced veterans. We need each other to move forward.

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