First Job, First Month Survival Guide Part 3 – Key Don’ts

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Following on from the second part of the guide, in part 3 Mark mentions all of his things you shouldn’t do in your first job, especially within the first month.

The Don’ts

If those are the Dos, then there are also clearly some Don’ts that you want to avoid.

Some of these are obviously the flip side of the Dos. If looking business-like and presentable is a Do, then turning up looking like a slacker or a tramp (in either UK or US meanings) are obviously a no-no.

The other key Don’ts are probably also pretty obvious if you stop to think, the only problem being that sometimes people don’t:

Getting drunk when socialising

If there are social activities organised at or around work then you ought to be taking advantage of these to meet your colleagues outside the work environment. It can be a great shortcut towards getting to know them and building good relationships. But remember, this is now work and you’re an employee and not a student anymore so don’t let a free bar go to your head.

Enjoy yourself. Yes, you want to get on with people and make a good impression. Fun, good company and sensible is good, beneficial even, given that as you get on in your career socialising is likely to become an ever more important part of it at senior levels and these skills are seen as an asset.

But whether there’s actually a manager there or not, be careful in what you do and how you behave so don’t overdo it, as stories about you will get around and get back to the office quicker than you can ever imagine. An outrageous drunken clown is not an asset, they’re a business liability.

Gossip/over confide

Neither your manager, nor your co-worker are your best friend (certainly not yet anyway).

So, don’t gossip about what you think about other people in the workplace, who you like and who you don’t, or over confide about issues at home. All that’s going to do is lead to trouble as it gets around the grapevine and you don’t want to be seen to be a source of trouble, do you? Thought not.

Grandstanding your personal views

Following on from above, you will probably share a range of views amongst your friends where there’s a degree of consensus or acceptance of differing points of view on anything from politics to football teams. But that’s amongst a self-selecting group of people (as anyone with, say, political views that were completely unacceptable to the rest of the group is, in practise, unlikely to stay a member of that group for long).

But the people you work with aren’t brought together because they like each other’s company and share each other’s outlooks and opinions. They are all there simply because they were hired to do jobs which needed doing, so you need to appreciate:

o there is likely to be a wide range of deeply held views in your workplace, some of which you may fundamentally disagree with; and

o the last thing your employer wants is someone starting arguments with other employees, particularly over non- work related issues.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying remember you are there to work, not debate or campaign, so park your politics or whatever at the door and don’t bring up contentious subjects at work, certainly not until you have a thorough understanding of the culture, and have established strong and respected relationships that can take the weight of your opinions.

Starting conflict in the workplace is not the way to give your boss what they want.

Never forget you are now representing your organisation

Your employer is hiring you and certain of your attributes to do a job. Your private life is your private life and while it’s up to you how you live it, it’s not unreasonable for your employer to expect that what you make publicly available shouldn’t bring the organisation into disrepute.

This is an area where I’d expect quite a lot of potential conflict to arise in employer/employee relationships, particularly as social norms change. (How many years back would it have been when there could have been concerns about employees coming out as gay, for example?)

However, without getting into a debate about the rights and wrongs of it, the advice simply needs to be, in these days of ubiquitous social media, think very carefully about what image you are conveying. These days what happens in Vegas stays on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr,

Pinterest, Instagram…

Use social media/gaming at work

Your employer is likely to have the old-fashioned idea that they’ve actually hired you to work. So, unless that work is to create a viral social media buzz, then you are not there to chat to your mates, work on your high score, scroll your Facebook feed, download pirated movies, or curate your blog. That’s all personal stuff so keep it for personal time (apart from pirating stuff aka the theft of copyright material that someone has slaved over creating – just don’t do that at all).

Read Part 4 Here

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