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6 Things That Every Workforce Entrant Should Know

6 Things That Every Workforce Entrant Should Know
    Photo from bradbridgewater on Flickr

    It feels like the past 4 years of college have flown by and now with only one month of school left I have never felt the days pass more slowly.

    There is still a ton of stuff left to do for school-work and what I like to call “administrative” tasks like making sure important forms are filled out so that I can graduate. You think that this would be stressful enough yet on top of all of that I am transitioning my role as student to employee.

    Looking and interviewing for your first “real” job can be a daunting task and without the help from others that have done it before me, I would have been lost. Below are some of the things that I have learned in the process of becoming a new employee that hopefully you can use when you are doing the same thing.

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    Before Interviewing

    Know what you are looking for

    Do you want an office job? Do you want to move around? How about work on large teams or by yourself? These are all things that you should consider when looking for your first out of college.

    There are some things that are going to be the same everywhere you go (sorry, there aren’t really any jobs where you have to work 0 hours a week), but there are some things that differ form company to company. For example if you work for a large consulting firm you may have to move around and work for other companies that you may not mesh with.

    Know what the company is looking for

    It’s great to start your job search knowing what you are looking for, the problem is that most job seekers and potential employees stop there and just apply wherever they think that they want to work. What’s important is for you to understand what the company that you are applying to is actually looking for.

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    Back to the consulting idea, if you are looking for a place to go to stay for an indeterminate amount of time and not have to move around that much, then consulting probably isn’t for you. Consulting companies are looking for people that aren’t afraid or even like to move around on a regular basis. Knowing what the company is looking for in an employee is something that you can use to your advantage when applying and interviewing.

    Research the company online and check out their site

    This is not a suggestion. You have to know what the company does that you are applying to and understand what they are known for. You would be surprised out how many people have no clue. During the interview process they will surely ask you why you are attracted to their company and an answer like, “you will help me pay my bills” will probably not help you.

    Just check out their site, read, and take notes of what they are about.

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    From Interview To Offer

    Make sure to speak

    So much of our communication now-a-days is in the typewritten form through email or text message. There is something to say about email etiquette for sure, but if you want to make a big impact to a company that you are in the interview process with, consider talking to them on the phone or if you can in person. Email can only portray so much of yourself; speaking on the phone not only shows them that you aren’t some scared animal behind a keyboard, but also what kind of person you are, if you have a sense of humor, etc.

    With so much of our communication through text, it is a breath of fresh air to speak to someone in person.

    Learn about benefits and ask questions

    Something that tends to happen to new entrants into the working world is that they get scared that if they ask questions about things that “they (think) should know”, they will look like an uninformed neanderthal to everyone that they talk to. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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    In my limited experience of interviewing I have found that asking questions is the only way that you will find out what certain benefit packages mean, including health insurance options, 401k, profit sharing, etc. HR reps are there to help you with anything that you may need, so asking questions just shows them that you want to be more informed; not that you are a blabbering idiot that knows nothing.

    Learn about company culture

    One excellent thing to do is to learn about the company culture from non-HR people. I have found that HR reps are very pro- “their firm” and tend to sugar coat almost everything. If you want the nitty-gritty of how teams inside of the company work, suggest to your HR rep the idea of meeting with some employees that would be on the same team as you or even middle managers. Most times you will meet them anyways, but if not make sure to mention it.

    It seems that once you get outside of HR types, employees are much more candid. There is nothing like the impression you can get from someone that has been working on the front lines of the company. Asking questions like, “how do managers work with the subordinates here?” or “how stressful is your work environment?” are types of questions that will help shed some light on company culture.

    Transitioning from student to worker and creator can be a very stressful and challenging endeavor, especially if you have no clue what to expect. These tips just brush the service of what you should do while you are looking for and interviewing for potential jobs. The most important thing to remember when you don’t understand something or are confused is to reach out to others that have been through the process and ask questions.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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