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10 Things You Should Do In Your First Week in IT

10 Things You Should Do In Your First Week in IT
It’s your first week in the IT industry. This can be an overwhelming time in your career, as there’s so much to learn and a lot to do. Make it easier by learning ten things you can do in your first week in IT.

Learn Who The Key Contacts Are

Every office has a few key people that should be contacted in certain situations. Your manager should be able to help with most of the things that you do in your day-to-day activities.

However, some situations will call for others to help. These kinds of things your manager may not be able to do. What kinds of people are they?

There may be someone on your office that is responsible for fixing the printer when it breaks. The last thing you want is a broken printer when you need to print something important. If you know who to approach to report it, then you send the impression that you can take action and like to get problems solved.

There could be someone else that sets up access to systems, if it’s not your manager. These could be administration systems, workflow, documentation and email systems. Learn who these people are and speak to them if you need to.

There’s often also someone in the office that seems to know who everyone is. The kind of person who you can ask “who should I speak to about…” and they can tell you the answer. This is an important person to know as they can help you get things done easier.

Keep Asking Questions

The first week in any new job is tough, especially in IT. Organizations do the same things differently, and they often run different systems and applications. One way to find out about all of these is to ask questions.

Being the new person in a job means you’ll be asking a lot of questions. You won’t learn everything you need to know on your first day, though. I suggest you continue to ask questions after your first day.

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Ask people how things work, what needs to be done, when certain things happen, where information gets sent, and how things happen. Ask as many questions as you need. You’re the new person so you’re allowed to, and even expected to.

Be Proactive When Introducing Yourself

You’ll be seeing a lot of new faces in your new job. You may have met some people during the interview process and as part of your team on the first day, but you’ll see a lot more during your first week.

Try to take an active approach when meeting new people. There’s not always going to be someone around to introduce you, and if you work in the same office, you’ll probably see them again.

Starting off with a simple “Hi” is enough. You can mention you’re new here and ask for their name, and offer yours. Most people will be pretty friendly to the new person.

If they aren’t, don’t take it personally. They just might be having a bad day. If you stay positive about it, it will be easier to move on from it.

Learn the Unwritten Rules

Every office has a set of unwritten rules. And most offices are different. I’ve worked in a consulting role for the last few years, and have been in many different offices. I’ve noticed they all have their own unwritten rules, which are things that people do but don’t really talk about.

These unwritten rules can include things like:

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  • Who cleans the kitchen? When is it cleaned? Who is responsible for emptying and filling the dishwasher?
  • Is the fridge available for everyone to use? Are there certain sections that are everyone’s food and others that are private?
  • Do you need to book all meeting rooms before using them, or can you walk into it if they are free?
  • What happens when the coffee or tea runs out?
  • What happens when the printer runs out of paper or ink?
  • When and where do people eat lunch? Is eating at your desk acceptable or frowned upon?

It’s a good idea to notice little things like this and see if certain behaviors and events happen. It will make you fit in more and help you become more accepted in your new role.

Keep Track Of Your Accomplishments

Here will be a lot of things that you get to work on at the start of your IT career. This isn’t just in your first week–it applies to your first few months or first year. As the work comes and goes, you get things done, some big and some small. You may have some pretty big achievements in all of that.

When it comes time for your performance review, you’re often asked to list your achievements. Instead of trying to remember them all at the end of the year, I suggest writing them down and keeping a record of them as they happen. This will allow you to add more detail to them, as they are fresher in your mind, and will mean it’s easier for you to complete your performance review later in the year.

Write down small and big achievements. You can always trim the list later in the year if other, better achievements come along.

Organize Your Desk

You’ll most likely be spending a lot of time at your desk, at your computer. Even if you have a job that involves moving around and going to different places, you will probably find yourself at your desk quite a lot.

I suggest getting your desk organized early in your role. This doesn’t mean just setting up your keyboard and mouse. Get yourself some stationery if you need it, such as folders, pens, books, pen holders. If you need some document trays, try to get some of those. Get your phone connected, voicemail set up, and any other cables sorted out.

This will make it easier for you to do your job when you get busy. You don’t want to be figuring out how to get stationery or correcting a voicemail message when you’ve got other things that need to be done.

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Set Up a To Do List

One of the most effective ways to get things done at work is to set up a To Do list.

This is simply a list of things that you need to do at work. It can start small, with only a few things on it, like getting supplies or speaking to someone. As your role grows, you’ll get more work to do and need some way of tracking it.

I personally use Microsoft Outlook’s task feature to keep track of work-related tasks. It’s simple, and all of the places I’ve worked have Outlook installed. I’ve seen other people use Evernote or even a pen and paper. Whatever works for you, as long as you’re writing down what you need to do, you should receive the benefits of it.

Update Your Social Media

Getting a new job is great. It’s a big step in your career. It’s also important to make it known. Not in a bragging capacity, but just to let other people know. This should be done on your social media profiles.

The important one is LinkedIn, the professional networking site. Set up a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t already. If you have, update your title, company and role information. Making sure this is up to date will make it easier to connect with other people.

If you use other social sites like Facebook or Twitter, you may wish to update it there as well.

Learn Your Neighborhood

Where there are offices, there are usually smaller shops around to support them. Near offices, you can find coffee shops for the morning pick-me-up, cafés and sandwich shops for lunches, and even other services such as post offices and pharmacies. During your first week, it’s good to learn where these places are.

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Google Maps is a good tool for finding some of the bigger services. It may not be able to tell you where to find the best flat white coffee, but it can tell you where the nearest grocery store or post office is.

Have a walk at lunchtime or before work to see what’s in the area and what might be worth knowing about. This not only helps when you’re looking for it later, but you can also help when other people are looking for places.

Read Lots of Internal Documentation

Companies often send out internal documentation for their employees to read. This can come in many forms, such as emails, brochures, and larger documents. This documentation is used for many reasons including updating the staff on the latest events, promoting products, or offering  training.

A good way to improve your career and your effectiveness at your job is to read the documentation that the company provides. There should be documentation that relates to your role, such as how things work and how it all fits together.

There could also be other documents worth reading, such as company announcements, process documents and company history. This can make you more educated and informed about the company, which is often a good thing.

Well I hope these tips will be useful in your first week on the job. What other tips do you have for those in their first week?

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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