Transition into the Workplace

Whether you are entering the workforce for the first time, or returning after an absence to obtain more education, congratulations on landing a job! This is yet another really important puzzle piece in your career planning.

For most exiting college students, this is a time of excitement. It's a new adventure-new people, opportunities, challenges, and intellectual stimulation. You're launching a new career with a new employer (or being promoted within the organization) and now you get to apply what you've learned. This is the pinnacle of your career decision-making.

It is also a time of hope-hope that you will like what you're going to be doing, (a good career fit), enjoy the people you're going to be working with, and feel appreciated for your efforts and energy.

Like all of the other career transitions you have experienced to get here, you'll continue to experience transition with your new job as well. There will definitely be highs and lows, and some confusion and frustration to go with it. Learning your new job is a process. This experience will not only be a time to put your skills and knowledge to practice, but will require some social savvy on your part. Understanding your organization's "culture"; their values, communication style, and work ethic etc, will take some time to learn, and also to determine if this is a good environmental fit for you.

Key Skills & Competencies for Succes

While every organization defines "success" differently, most organizations are clear about what makes a successful employee in their work environment.

The following is a list of skills and competencies most highly valued by a breadth of employer organizations nationally.

WORKPLACE COMPETENCIES: Effective workers can productively use

  • Resources-they know how to allocate time, money, materials, space, and staff.
  • Interpersonal Skills-they can work on teams, teach others, serve customers, lead, negotiate, and work well with people from culturally diverse backgrounds.
  • Information-they can acquire and evaluate data, organize and maintain files, interpret and communicate, and use computers to process information.
  • Systems-they understand social, organizational, and technological systems; they can monitor and correct performance; and they can design or improve systems.
  • Technology-they can select equipment and tools, apply technology to specific tasks, and maintain and troubleshoot equipment.

FOUNDATIONS SKILLS: Competent workers in high-performance workplace need

  • Basic Skills-reading, writing, arithmetic and mathematics, speaking, and listening.
  • Thinking Skills-the ability to learn, to reason, to think creatively, to make decisions, and to solve problems.
  • Personal Qualities-individual responsibility, self-esteem, and self-management, sociability, and integrity.

And while the list of skills desired may seem pretty basic, the research shows that these are the skills that are currently lacking in the national workplace. Thus, working toward perfecting these skills and qualities can get you off to a good start wherever you work.

In addition, it's important to keep current in your field. Lifelong learning is the mantra for the 21st century. Without it, we lose our competitive edge in the marketplace. It helps to insure job retention as well as interest in what we do.

In starting your job, it's important to make a good impression. Most of the time, we don't know the new people we are working with. Well, time is on your side. Make sure you use your time wisely however to keep and succeed in your job.

Here are some core tips to keep you out of trouble and advance your opportunity:

  • Don't be hesitant to ask questions. Asking questions is part of learning and a sign of intellectual strength. You are not expected to know everything when you begin a new job. If you do make a mistake, don't hide it-it could affect a lot of people. Talk to your supervisor right away. Listen carefully, look at the cause, reflect, and try to change your thinking.
  • Know what is expected. Get clear about the expectations that your employer may have about your job. Don't count solely on the job description and interview for your information. Listen to the people you work with. Again, ask questions, and observe.
  • Learn the names and functions of your co-workers. It's important from the start to develop a good working relationship with your co-workers. Being friendly increases your information network, makes work more enjoyable, offers support, and can help you to develop a positive reputation as an employee.
  • Know how your job relates to the overall operation of the organization. Understanding the importance of your job and knowing how it affects the overall operation of an organization allows you to gain a deeper understanding and sense of involvement in your job.
  • Start with and keep a positive attitude. Your attitude is reflected in how you look (i.e. happy, grumpy), how you sound (i.e. friendly, or angry), and how you behave (productive, lazy). How you feel about your job affects how hard you work, chances for promotion, safety and well-being, your co-workers, and your life off the job. A positive attitude can make a difference in how much you can enjoy your work. If a problem should arise to challenge your happiness, get support and/or talk to your supervisor.
  • Always be on time. Better yet, be to work BEFORE time. As simple as this may seem, it is a national problem. Being reliable can earn trust and respect from your new employer.
  • Come to work. Another national problem. If you're going to be unavoidably late or sick, ask your supervisor the proper method for communicating this.
  • Be a team player. Be willing to help and share relevant ideas that may impact another person's area.
  • Learn new skills. Be open to continuous learning, and track all that you learn. This will help keep your job portfolio current. And, consider joining a professional organization in your career area. It's a great way to keep current and network.
  • Find a mentor. There's a lot that can be learned by a person who is a couple of levels beyond yours in the organization. Let the coach, coach you.