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By Robyn Ironside.
Robyn Ironside is an experienced journalist who has covered numerous areas of expertise over her long career. Robyn offers advice for those early days in a new role, ranging from personal grooming to salary sacrifice.
Kicking off a career is serious business. Mistakes made at the outset can be very hard to live down. Take my security pass for instance.
If I’d really stopped to think about the identification tag I wear around my neck every day as a standard security requirement, I’d have put a lot more effort into hair and make-up on day one!
In all seriousness, making that first foray into full-time work is a thrilling and slightly scary experience for which one can only prepare so much.
Personal grooming is always a good starting point but in those early days, it’s about being a sponge – and I don’t mean in the “can you buy me lunch” sense. Soaking up every bit of information and experience is critically important to how the next step may develop, and how quickly.
If I was to go back to the start, I’d take more of an interest in what people outside my immediate area did.
I’d keep my mind open to the possibility another job could be as satisfying and enjoyable, or even more so, as my own. Learning about all areas of a business can be a great way to figure out where you want to be, and most people like to talk about what they do and why they do it.
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On the topic of talking to colleagues and workmates, the old chestnut about being nice to people on the way up because you’ll see them again on the way down, is worth remembering. It never ceases to amaze me how many people with whom I crossed paths in an early job, I have ended up working with in another capacity down the track. Australia really isn’t that big and the various industries within it are relatively small. Treating people as you expect to be treated would have to be one of the golden rules of a successful career. People generally remember those who treat them well but they never forget those who treat them poorly. Don’t dismiss anyone as too junior or unworthy of your time and attention.
Do however have confidence in yourself and the contribution you’re making, or at least capable of making to an organisation. Remember you’re a worthy member of the workplace, so shake the boss’s hand, look them in the eye and let them know what you’re doing and how you’re going.
On the “don’t” front, constantly comparing yourself to others in the workplace, can undermine your confidence and lead to negative outcomes.
Many workplaces encourage competition among employees as motivation to do better and achieve more, but the most important thing is to be the best you can be.
That might mean recognising your skillset is different to others, and finding a role that plays up those strengths.
Not that one can’t improve themselves, and being open to learning new skills and adopting new technologies is probably never as important as it is now.
Employers tend to look very favourably on those who try to better themselves with additional study and extra training and all of those opportunities should be seized with relish.
It’s about not limiting yourself and not letting a particular role define yourself. You’re so much more than that, you just have to find out!
Understanding awards and entitlements is another skill I never really mastered. At an age where I’m closer to retirement than graduation, I do wish I’d paid more attention to my pay packet, in particular the superannuation component. It’s only now I’ve woken up to the value of salary sacrificing, and making my own super contributions without thinking my employer would take care of it all. It seems like such an obvious thing now but as a wide-eyed young journalist, filling in reams of paperwork and reading brochures about superannuation seemed less important.
As with anything, the more effort you put in, the more you get out – and that certainly goes for personal finances. Taking an interest, getting some good advice along the way and acting on it, can make a huge difference to your outlook and peace of mind at a later stage of life.
So there it is. It’s pretty simple really.
In a nutshell:
When you change jobs, we'll come too
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Personal view disclaimer
The views of the author are not necessarily the views of the QSuper Board and QInvest Limited Board. We’ve put this information together as general information only and you should get professional advice before relying on this information.
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