You did it! You perfected your cover letter and resume, applied for the job, rocked the interview, and got hired. The “real world” will suddenly begin to feel more real now that a steady paycheck will be coming your way. Starting your first job out of college is a rite of passage. Sure, you may have had summer jobs or internships between semesters and during the summers in college, but this is the real deal. This is what you worked your butt off for in college. All those late-night study sessions, group projects and exams all lead to this.
So, now that you landed the job and you’re on cloud nine, remember to do these 10 things to set yourself up for a smooth transition into the working world:
1. If you’re given job-related documentation before you start your position (i.e., an employee handbook), review it and become familiar with your company’s policies
Chances are that your company has policies and procedures that you’re expected to abide by. As an employee, you represent your company both on and off the job. Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the documentation you’re given. Not sure what to wear your first day? Your company probably has details about the dress code listed in the employee handbook. Looking for a list of holidays recognized by your office? There’s probably a company calendar you can refer to and if you don’t have one, you should get your hands on it during your first day. If you have a burning question that you can’t find an answer to, your HR contact or hiring manager can help you out.
2. Introduce yourself to your new colleagues on your first day
Okay, this probably seems super obvious, but the first day of a new job (let alone your first job out of college) is like the first day of school. It can be overwhelming and extremely nerve-wracking. You’re the newbie and all eyes will be on you for what feels like the entire day. Hopefully your supervisor will take you around and introduce you to your team members, but if things get hectic and that doesn’t happen, take it upon yourself to meet everyone. You don’t have to give your whole life story. Just shake hands, say your name and explain that you’re excited to be a part of the team. Everyone you work with has been in the same boat as you at one point or another, so there’s nothing to be nervous about. Finally, with all of the new information being thrown at you on your first day, don’t feel bad if you forget someone’s name. It will happen. Don’t feel dumb asking your supervisor to give you another rundown of everyone in your department.
3. Set up a professional email signature and record your voicemail message
Emails are a standard means of communication in the working world, so updating your email signature is a must. Be sure to list your full name, job title, phone number and your email address. Your company might have a template you need to use for your email signature. If this is the case, copy the email signature of one of your colleagues and replace their information with yours. You'll also want to set up your voicemail account on your desk phone if you have one. Record a message that includes your name and phone number.
P.S. Speaking of your email account and voicemail, don’t forget to set up out of office emails and update your voicemail greeting when you’re traveling for business, on vacation or away from work for a holiday. Find out who your back up might be when you’re out of the office and provide their name and email address if someone requires immediate assistance.
4. Update your LinkedIn profile
Now that you got your foot in the door and you’re officially a member of the “real world,” you should update your LinkedIn profile. Time to get rid “recent graduate of ____ university,” or “seeking employment in ____ field.” All of your hard work has paid off, so show off your new beginning by listing your job title and company name. If your company gives you an opportunity to take an official employee head shot, ask for a copy of it and update your LinkedIn profile picture, too.
5. Inquire about ordering business cards
Chances are that you’ll hand out a business card or two while you’re working in your new position. While you may not need them during your first week on the job, it’ll be nice to have your own set down the road. If your job requires networking such as meeting with clients or attending conferences, you may want to consider purchasing a business card holder.
Here are some options:
6. Set up your direct deposit
All that hard-earned cash you earn on the job has to go somewhere. You should think about where you want your paycheck to go and have information like your bank’s name, your account number and your routing number on hand. You may also need to submit a voided check. Don’t be surprised if your first few paychecks are sent to you in the mail. Once you get your direct deposit set up, your money will instantly be put into your bank account on payday. Now don’t go spending it all in one place!
7. Take advantage of your employer’s benefit package
Now that you’re employed, thumb through your company’s benefit package. See what they offer and enroll in what you need when you’re able to. If you’re eligible for healthcare or dental benefits, review the options that best suits your needs and pick a plan that gives you the right amount of coverage. Your employer may also participate in a discount program that allows you to save on things like movie, concert, and theme park tickets. Additionally, you may be able to score a discount on your existing wireless plan depending on your carrier. #WorkPerks
8. Enroll in your employer’s 401k program and contribute what you can
This technically falls under your employer’s benefits package, but it’s an important point to highlight as many entry-level employees or millennials in the workforce often overlook investing money into their retirement savings. Enrolling and contributing to your 401k as early as possible is crucial to setting yourself up for life after your working career thanks to our little friend known as “compounding interest." In addition, as part of a company 401k program, most all employers will contribute a “company match” to your retirement account as long as you meet their contribution minimum. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of free money?! Stay tuned for more on getting the most out of, and the importance of, your company 401k in a future blog post!
9. Contact your college or universities’ alumni office or communications department to let them know where you got hired
So, this is optional, but colleges and universities love to know where their alumni are working. Sometimes schools list names of students and the companies they work for in university newsletters or publications. If you haven’t yet, consider joining your school’s alumni association. It’s great for networking and meeting others in your industry.
10. Under promise, over deliver and work to prove that you were the right person for the job
You won over the HR team and your supervisor in the interview, so now it’s time to keep shining. You can’t expect to coast through your first job. You’re going to have to pay attention, work hard and demonstrate that you’re dedicated to the getting the work done. During your first year of post-college employment, you’ll be like a sponge – soaking in tons of new information about your company and your industry. As long as you’re willing to learn (and learn from your mistakes – yes, you’ll make plenty of those), you should be good. When someone asks you to do something, take on the task and go the extra mile. Your supervisor will quickly see that you mean business.
So there you have it! Now that you have an understanding of 10 basic things you should do as an entry-level employee, keep putting your best foot forward and aim to make a difference in your workplace. As long as you’re willing to learn and grow, your work will be fulfilling and you’ll progress in your career.
What advice would you give to someone who is first starting out in an entry level job? Let me know in the comment section below!