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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 January 21, 2020

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

    Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

    Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

    What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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    If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

    Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

    These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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    Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

    On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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