If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting out at work?
Few of us forget our very first job. It’s often an exciting, yet nerve-wracking time. And whether you loved or loathed the experience, we bet you learned a lot from those first few years of work.
To put all this hard-earned knowledge to good use, we asked you, our friends and followers on social media, what advice you'd give to those taking their first career steps.
Be Flexible When You're Starting Out
Flexibility was a key theme for a lot of people. On LinkedIn, Angela Okkerse, a quality assurance team leader from Auckland, New Zealand, said, "Be open to everything, don’t show resistance." Midgie from Mind Tools (@Mind_Tools) agreed, and reminded us that sometimes life takes us in an unexpected direction: "We often need to make adjustments along the way!"
On Twitter, Jo Shaw (@JoShaw_5) made a great point when she said, "Be flexible on how you reach your goals. Success is never a straight line. Always be proactive."
And, as JD Assist Ltd (@JDAssist) highlighted, attitude is everything. "A good attitude and willingness to give things a go will take you a long way," she said. Related to this was Helen van Dadelszen's advice on LinkedIn: "Never burn bridges – you don't know when you'll need to cross them again."
Also on LinkedIn, Nikki Thomas pointed out that asking questions is essential. She said, "So many people wonder for too long and feel unable to ask. Unsure about a process, acronym, title, project, budget, anything? Just ask!"
Jo Shaw (@JoShaw_5) agreed, and added, "Ask LOTS of questions. No one will think you’re stupid! Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, your voice and opinions are valuable!"
And we think Robbie Chui's simple comment on LinkedIn was an important one. He said, "Spend time listening." This is something we could all probably benefit from doing more often.
On Twitter, @CareerGoals360 offered some great advice about embracing whatever comes your way, saying, "Keep an open mind and willingness to learn all parts of the business, not just the organization or department you work in."
Fotoula Douros on LinkedIn added her own advice on this point: "Be an active listener; pay attention to details and know that when you ask questions, you're showing initiative."
Gayle Kaufmann, a business owner from Fife, UK, had some more practical advice to share: "Put your phone away!"
The Center for Work Ethic Development (@WorkEthicCenter) built on Gayle’s idea, and said, "Work hard, stay focused when in the office (no phones!), don't be afraid to make mistakes, and always show gratitude!"
A lot of people commented on the need to take chances. As Felicity Wood, an HR professional from Adelaide, Australia, said on LinkedIn, "If someone offers you an opportunity and you don't know how to do it, say YES and work it out!"
Matt Cesaro added, "Don't wait until you 'feel' ready. You'll be waiting a long time."
Many people highlighted the need to follow a path that you find enjoyable. Jo Shaw on Twitter (@JoShaw_5) summed it up with this comment: "Follow your passions, success will follow."
KimWoods (@TwisterKW) noted the importance of self-belief when she said, "Don't settle. Know your worth. Look for the learning in every step, situation, and position. Take it with you on your path. Enjoy!"
Our Facebook friend Sohail Kaakar reminded us that we don't need to rush, saying, "Take it easy, build confidence over time, network right away and maintain rapport, put your best potential forth to do your job professionally. Learn from your mistakes. Love your job and enjoy it!"
It's all about finding your niche, according to Patrick Ijeoma. He said, "Find the right niche that suits your passion. Go for the niche. Explore your niche. Stay focused and not carried away by unreasonable opportunities. Be the best in your field."
Look on the Bright Side!
And we really like the advice from Karen Krabbenhoft, a helpdesk technician from Fort Worth, Texas, about looking on the "bright side." She said, "Always look for the 'up' in any situation. There is always an up! You're in a new career. Breathe, take it all in. Get to know your peers. After you know the lay of the land, see what level of impact you can make.
"Your new perspective and fresh set of eyes can sometimes be the missing link to saving time and money for the company, as well as enhancing customer experiences for both the internal customer and the external customer."
Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their tips. There's some great advice for people starting out at work, for sure. But to me, it all seems like pretty sound advice no matter what stage of your career you're at.
Do you have any advice to share for people starting out in their careers? If so, please comment below and let our community know.