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7 Common Mistakes Most People Make at Their First Job

7 Common Mistakes Most People Make at Their First Job

Your first job can be a great way to make connections in your line of work and to really get yourself going in terms of a career. While it’s likely that you’ll get your first job when you’re pretty young, it’s important to remember that you’re a professional now, and you should act like one. But whatever you do, don’t make the following seven mistakes.

1. Pretending to understand everything right away.

If you don’t understand something, it’s important that you ask for clarification. Not doing so can result in major problems in the future. Most people are happy to help, especially if you’re new. It’s definitely better to get things right on the front end rather than having to correct your mistakes later. (And that has the potential to waste someone else’s time, as well).

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2. Pretending to understand nothing at all.

A lot of people make the mistake of pretending not to understand something because they think it will force others to interact with them and that it will lighten their workloads. However much you may want to sit back and play dumb, it’s never a good idea. If you know what you’re doing and can complete tasks well, it shows that you have a lot of skill and will truly impress your new boss. As long as you’re confident in the accuracy of your knowledge, use that to your advantage.

3. Ignoring the other employees.

Even if you genuinely don’t like anyone else at your job, it’s important to make an effort. Not only will it make your day a lot easier, but you never know when you might need someone’s help with a task. Don’t alienate others, and don’t be shy. Work can feel like a chore if you don’t have anyone to talk to while there. Make the effort to reach out to your coworkers. They might become friends, allies, and even tutors.

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4. Forgetting to be polite.

Different work environments will have different etiquette associated with them, but as a general rule, be polite to everyone. Don’t burn any bridges by being rude or careless. It’s nice to go the extra mile and offer to make everyone a pot of coffee or to simply say “thank you,” when it’s appropriate. Things like this can make a great first impression.

5. Simply trying too hard.

While it’s definitely in your best interest to be outgoing and personable with others at the office, it’s important to remember to be yourself. Trying too hard can make you seem annoying and overeager. Sometimes it’s good to let others come to you for a change. Additionally, don’t try to show anyone up. You should complete your work in a timely manner, but don’t try so hard that you end up competing with others.

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6. Not giving it your all.

Even if this isn’t your dream job, you shouldn’t act like you’re there temporarily. You should dedicate yourself to your work. It never did anyone any favors to act like they were on their way out of the door – so commit yourself to this job. This is especially true if you don’t already have something lined up somewhere else. Try focusing on the experience you’re getting from this job and how you’re fortunate to be employed.

7. Not being active.

As the new employee, it can be easy to fade into the background and simply do as you’re told. However, you shouldn’t be too passive. You can still do your job and respect your superiors while still contributing and being an actively participating member of the team. Others will admire your willingness to step up and share your opinions.

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Featured photo credit: reynermedia via photopin.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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