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7 Important Things Our First Job Taught Us

7 Important Things Our First Job Taught Us

Entering the workforce for the first time is going to be as instructive as it will be potentially terrifying. Most of us get jobs when we’re fairly young, and the realization that we will spend most of our lives answering directly to somebody other than ourselves isn’t an easy thing to shake.

The thing is, our first jobs, no matter how ridiculous, are going to stay with us; they’re going to teach us things we would never learn elsewhere, and to a certain extent, shape the person we’ll become later in our professional lives. Here are seven important lessons you’ll learn from your first job.

people skills

    1. People Skills are 90 Percent of Any Job.

    The other 10 percent consists of the actual skills you learned at college or otherwise acquired along the way. The problem is, we don’t exist in a bubble; we’ll have to deal with other people pretty regularly.

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    Knowing how to communicate effectively, as well as being personable, is going to be (for some of us) the hardest part of the job. Even if you work from home as an independent contractor, you still answer to (and will have to interact with) real people.

    2. You Need to Stay Two Steps Ahead.

    Our success at our jobs – no matter the job – is less about any given moment, day or project, and more about the next. Anticipation is a thing we’ll learn early, whether it’s anticipating what a customer will want before they know how to ask for it, or anticipating the next demand our boss will make.

    If our first jobs teach us anything, it’s that one of the quickest ways to distinguish ourselves in the workplace is to take initiative. Don’t wait around to be told what to do; don’t make any assumptions, either, but if you’re given a chance to jump on the next thing that needs doing, without being instructed to do so, you’ll probably be rewarded.

    3. Don’t be (Too) Afraid to Make Mistakes.

    Conventional wisdom tells us that human beings learn from our mistakes. Science tells us that we may learn better from our triumphs. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.

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    When it comes to tackling a job, you’re almost guaranteed to slip up once in a while. That’s what the “learning curve” is all about; it’s an understanding between you and your boss that you’re still getting used to how things work. The thing is, learning is a lifelong process. You’re going to make mistakes. Dreading them, or walking on eggshells all day to avoid them is no way to live.

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      4. Get Used to Monotony.

      With very few exceptions, most jobs out there are almost painfully dull. There may be slight variations along the way, but for the most part, our jobs will largely consist of the same activities and tasks on a daily basis.

      Learning to make the most of a predictable life is important; you’ll have to find your own ways to change things up from time to time and inject a little bit of variety into your working hours.

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      5. You’re Going to Work With People You Don’t Like.

      This might be the most important takeaway from our first jobs. It’s tempting to think that after you accept a job, you’ll find yourself among like-minded individuals who have everything in common with you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, on occasion, you may end up feeling like you should take some animal repellant to work with you.

      I got my first job when I was 11 years old, at a local rental company. They rented chairs, tents, power equipment and dozens of other things I couldn’t name. It seemed like almost every other employee who worked there was some kind of ex-convict, swore like a sailor and chain-smoked. Needless to say, there weren’t any employee picnics, and if there were, I’d have come up with a great excuse not to go.

      job security

        6. Accepting Any Job Can be Risky.

        Getting hired is, for most of us, a cause for celebration, and for good reason. It’s a culmination of a potentially months-long process of drawn-out interviews and waiting and worrying. Unfortunately, what comes next is anything but certain.

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        Unless you’re the CEO’s daughter, your continued employment is far from assured. Neither is your financial stability. Learning not to take anything for granted is one of the most important life lessons you’ll ever learn.

        7. Getting Hired is Only the Beginning.

        So you’ve successfully landed a job. That’s great, but you’re still far from knowing everything you need to know about performing the job and, more importantly, immersing yourself in the culture of your new workplace.

        There are peoples’ names to learn and organizational procedures to memorize. Just because you work there now doesn’t mean you’re on even footing with your new co-workers; it’s going to take time and effort to make yourself a truly valuable piece of the puzzle. Find your strengths in the workplace and what kind of skills you offer that others can’t to make yourself truly valuable.

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        Last Updated on April 6, 2020

        How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

        How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

        Turning 50 is a milestone in anyone’s life, after all you are half way to 100! But seriously, turning 50 is often a time in life when people can sit back and take a look at where they’ve been and contemplate what the future holds.

        Can you change careers at 50? It’s not uncommon for people in their 50’s to consider a career change, after all if you’ve spent 20 to 30 years in a career, chances are that some of the bloom is off the rose.

        Often, when we are starting out in our 20’s, we choose a career path based on factors that are no longer relevant to us in our 50’s. Things like our parents’ expectations, a fast paced exciting lifestyle or the lure of making a lot of money can all be motivating factors in our 20’s.

        But in our 50’s, those have given way to other priorities. Things like the desire to spend more time with family and friends, a slower paced less stressful lifestyle, the need to care for a sick spouse or elderly parents can all contribute to wanting a career change in your 50’s.

        Just like any big life changing event, changing careers is scary. The good news is that just like most things we are scared of, the fear is mostly in our own head.

        Understanding how to go about a career change at 50 and what you can expect should help reduce the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

        What are Your Goals for a Career Change?

        As in any endeavor, having properly defined goals will help you to determine the best path to take.

        What are you looking for in a new career? Choosing a slower less stressful position that gives you more time with family and friends may sound ideal, but you’ll often find that you’re giving up some income and job satisfaction in the process.

        Conversely, if your goal is to quit a job that is sucking the life from your soul to pursue a lifelong passion. You might be trading quality time with family and friends for job satisfaction.

        Neither decision is wrong or bad, you just need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of any decision you make.

        Types of Career Changes at 50+

        There are four main types of career changes that people make in their 50’s. Each type has it’s unique set of challenges and will very in the degree of preparation required to make the change.

        Industry Career Change

        In this career change, a person remains in the same field but switches industries.

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        With an industry change, a person takes their set of skills and applies them to an industry that they have no previous experience in.

        An example would be a salesperson in the oil and gas industry becoming a salesperson for a media (advertising) company. They are taking their skill set (selling) and applying it to a different industry (media).

        This type of career change is best accomplished by doing a lot of homework on the industry you want to get into as well as networking within the industry.

        Functional Career Change

        A functional career change would be a change of careers within the same industry.

        For example, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company who changes careers to become a human resources manager. It may or may not be with the same company, but they remain within the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, they are leaving one set of skills behind (accounting) to develop a new set (human resource) within the same industry.

        In a functional career change, new or additional training as well as certifications may be required in order to make the switch. If you are considering a functional career change, you can start by getting any training or certifications needed either online, through trade associations or at your local community college.

        Double Career Change

        This is the most challenging career change of all. A person doing a double career change is switching both a career and an industry.

        An example of a double change would be an airline pilot quitting to pursue their dream of producing rock music. In that case, they are leaving both the aviation industry and a specific skill set (piloting) for a completely unrelated industry and career.

        When considering a double career change, start preparing by getting any needed training or certifications first. Then you can get your foot in the door by taking an apprenticeship or part time job.

        With a double change, it’s not uncommon to have to start out at the bottom as you are asking an employer to take a chance on someone without any experience or work history in the industry.

        Entrepreneurial Career Change

        Probably one of the most common career changes made by people in their 50’s is the entrepreneurial career change.

        After 20 to 30 years of working for “Corporate America”, a lot of people become disillusioned with the monotony, politics and inefficiency of the corporate world. Many of us dream of having our own business and being our own boss.

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        By this time in our life, we have saved some money and the financial pressures we had with young children have passed; so it’s a perfect time to spread our entrepreneurial wings.

        Entrepreneurial career changes can be within the same industry and using your existing knowledge and contacts to start a similar business competing within the same industry. Or it can be completely unrelated to your former industry and based on personal interests, passions or hobbies.

        A good example would be someone who played golf as a hobby starting an affiliate marketing website selling golf clubs. If you are considering an entrepreneurial career change, there are a lot of very good free resources available on the internet. Just be sure to do your homework.

        Practical Tips on Making a Career Change at 50+

        So you’ve decided to take the plunge and make a career switch in your 50’s. No matter what your reasons or what type of a career change you are embarking on, here are some helpful hints to make the transition easier:

        1. Deal with the Fear

        As stated earlier, any big life change comes with both fear and anxiety. Things never seem to go as smoothly as planned, you will always have bumps and roadblocks along the way. By recognizing this and even planning for it, you are less likely to let these issues derail your progress.

        If you find yourself becoming discouraged by all of the stumbling blocks, there are always resources to help. Contacting a career coach is a good place to start, they can help you with an overall strategy for your career change as well as the interview and hiring process, resume writing / updating and more. Just Google “Career Coach” for your options.

        I also recommend using the services of a professional counselor or therapist to help deal with the stress and anxiety of this major life event.

        It’s always good to have an unbiased third party to help you work through the problems that inevitably arise.

        2. Know Your “Why”

        It’s important that you have a clear understanding of the “why” you are making this career change. Is it to have more free time, reduce stress, follow a passion or be your own boss?

        Having a clear understanding of you personal “why” will influence every decision in this process. Knowing your “why” and keeping it in mind also serves as a motivator to help you reach your goals.

        3. Be Realistic

        Take an inventory of both your strengths and weaknesses. Are your organizational skills less than stellar? Then, becoming a wedding planner is probably not a good idea.

        This is an area where having honest outside input can be really helpful. Most of us are not very good at accurately assessing our abilities. It’s a universal human trait to exaggerate our abilities while diminishing our weaknesses.

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        Requesting honest feedback from friends and co-workers is a good place to start, but this is another area where a career coach can come in handy.

        4. Consider an Ad-Vocation

        Sometimes, making a career change all at once is just too big of a change. Issues like a severely reduced income, geography and lack of benefits can all be impediments to your career change. In those cases, you may want to start your new career as an ad-vocation.

        An ad-vocation is a second or ad-on vocation in addition to your primary vocation. Things like a part-time job, consulting or even a side business can all be ad-vocations.

        The benefit of having an ad-vocation is being able to build experience a reputation and contacts in the new field while maintaining all the benefits of your current job.

        5. Update Your Skills

        Whether it means acquiring new certifications or going back to school to get your cosmetology licence, having the right training is the foundation for a successful career change.

        The great thing about changing careers now is that almost any training or certifications needed can be free or at very little cost online. Check with trade associations, industry websites and discussion groups for any requirements you may need.

        Learn How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive.

        6. Start Re-Branding Yourself Now

        Use the internet and social media to change the way you present yourself online.

        Changing your LinkedIn profile is a good way to show prospective employers that you are serious about a career change.

        Joining Facebook groups, trade associations and discussion boards as well as attending conventions is a great way to start building a network while you learn.

        Here’re some Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success.

        7. Overhaul Your Resume

        Most of us have heard the advice to update our resume every six months, and most of us promptly ignore that advice and only update our resume when we need it.

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        When making a career change, updating is not enough; this calls for a complete overhaul of your resume. Chances are that your current resume was designed around your old career which may or may not apply to your new goals.

        Crafting a new resume emphasizing your strengths for the new position your looking for is key. There are many places that will help you craft a resume online and it is a service included with most career coaching services.

        8. Know Your Timeline

        There are a lot of factors when it comes to how long it will take to make the career change.

        Industry and Functional career changes tend to be the easiest to do and therefore can be accomplished in the shortest period of time. While the Double Career Change and the Entrepreneurial Career Change both require more effort and thus time.

        There are also personal factors involved in the time it will take to switch careers.

        Generally speaking the more you are willing to be flexible with both compensation and geography, the shorter time it will take to make the switch.

        Final Thoughts

        Changing careers at anytime can be stressful, but for those of us who are 50 or above, it can seem to be an overwhelming task fraught with pitfalls and self doubt.

        Prospective employers know the benefits that come with more mature employees. Things like a wealth of experience, a proven work history and deeper understanding of corporate culture are all things that older workers bring to the table.

        And while the younger generation may possess better computer or technical skills than us, if you’re willing to learn, there are a ton of free or nearly free resources available to you.

        Deciding on a career change at 50 is a great way to experience life on your own terms.

        More Tips for Career Change

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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