5 Effective Work Habits for Graduates

When entering the working world as a fresh graduate, you’re eager and excited to showcase your new skills in order to prove yourself amongst your peers. Sometimes, it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to do too much too soon and as a result, you may go over the top with what you show to your new employers and colleagues.

Whilst such eagerness can be a refreshing within the working environment, you might end up at a point where you become overwhelmed with tasks and assessments and end up failing, which is not the result you wanted. Below are 5 key traits for new you to practice and develop to transition into the working world.

1. Respect

Respect can appear to be easy to practice well, because it’s straightforward. However most individuals take it as a given. We have heard it often enough that we should be respectful to people, regardless of rank or designation. Ideally it is an act of reciprocity, when you are nice and respectful towards others, they would return in kind and help you when needed. This is especially important when entering a new organisation, seeing as you would never know what assistance you would require from your colleagues.

Being respectful to all your new colleagues is done out of common courtesy, especially when environments can become stressful and overwhelming. Being professional at all times increases the chances of individuals wanting you to work more with them and assist you when needed.

2. Diligence

Individuals often think that working hard is having to do as much work as possible. This is not true. In the situation of “working hard” there are contributing factors to keeping one working effectively. Self-motivation is a key component; as the old saying goes – if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards. The key to being diligent is to give each task 100%. You should also always look to improve on your skills, even as a graduate, and through due diligence, you will effectively learn what new skills you might need to acquire, or areas for improvement. Doing so helps to increase your value not only to yourself, but to your potential employers. (Doing homework and extra research on an area of focus also never hurts).

3. Focus

Sometimes when entering your new workplace, you are so eager to show everyone what you have learnt that you could overwhelm yourself by volunteering to assist with any task or project. Understanding what your job scope is and focusing on main tasks is vital. While you may think that you are showing initiative, promising to assist someone and then failing to complete the job due to lack of time or other external factors, will only reflect on you negatively. Maintaining a clear sense of professionalism and direction is important. Be aware of your limitations – focus on the current task at hand, deliver it and then move on to what else you can do next.

4. Positivity

Maintaining a strong level of positivity is not always an easy task, especially when faced with a challenge or under stress. For example, when your manager hands you a new project and expects you to work on it immediately, while you are in the midst of finishing another. It is not always easy to keep yourself balanced and often, you could fall into a slump which will probably manifest itself in your work and/ or appearance, causing others to be frustrated and annoyed.

Experiencing negative emotions being delivered in the form of criticism or rejection makes you stressed. Your body will shut down and your mind will switch to your conflict and defense mechanisms. As a result, you perceive situations as being worse than they really are. Being positive on the other hand, increases your communicative, collaborative and trust skills in others. Moreover, positive interactions increase expansive thought and actions.

On average, we need 3-5 positive interactions for every negative exchange that we have. In the workplace, have interactions and seek feedback about what is working effectively. As a new hire, people tend to be more understanding and forthcoming, and this can be used to your advantage, but only if you are proactive and remain positive.

5. Communicate

Having clear and open communication is effective in the process of helping to build strong working relationships with your colleagues. Strong communicators have the positive ability to give and receive criticism. It is always important to be able to express yourself whilst being able to listen to the ideas and opinions of others. Your appetite for learning should not diminish upon graduating – ask relevant questions. Ensure that when you are asking questions or seeking clarity with a problematic task that you offer what you think is a possible solution as well. If you see that something is not working, bring it to your manager’s attention but do not go ahead without having a series of well researched and analysed recommendations. This shows you’re proactive and you’re willing to learn even if the solution is not the right one. People are more likely to help you when they see that you have made a conscious effort, rather than wait to be spoon-fed answers.

It is clear that entering the working world is no easy task. However, consider these 5 points when taking that first step. Understand what is expected of you and learn to actively practice these points. There will be more along the way as you learn to adapt to your new company and work environment, but always be mindful when learning to practice a series of good work habits.

P.S. And always be on time.

“Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late” – William Shakespeare

Enjoyed what you read and want to learn more? Follow our GradGreenhouse page on LinkedIn for updated news, tips and our latest events.

Advice from… Michael Dell – founder of Dell Inc.

“Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room. In professional circles it’s called networking. In organisations it’s called team building. And in life it’s called family, friends, and community. We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships.”

Interview Tips for Personal Success

You have landed yourself an interview you are now faced with the issue of how to best prepare for one. What do you do? What are you going to expect during an interview? Where do you even begin?All of these questions can be rather unnerving, so here are a set of tips to help you ease those pre-interview jitters.

1. Fail to prepare = Prepare to fail

Preparation is key to any interview. It’s always good to plan ahead by ensuring that you know exactly where you are going and the time it takes to get to your interview destination. Ensure you arrive at least 15 minutes before, in order to minimise stress; interviewers are never impressed by late comers. It also helps to have a checklist – is there anything else to do on the day or is the company expecting you to bring anything with you? By being prepared, it ensures that you are ready for anything that might come your way.

2. Practice makes perfect

Preparing responses to interview questions is proven to help reduce anxiety levels. Your main aim is to deliver detailed and concise responses with your focus directed at specific examples and accomplishments. A useful technique to remembering this better is to develop your responses into a story form. Try not to memorise specific responses as they may come off as too predictable and rehearsed. Instead, formulate a flow to the questions you feel you will be asked and how you will answer them.

As your interview process begins, remember your success is dependent on the quality and delivery of your responses. Maintain your authenticity and always respond truthfully to your interview questions. Your goal is to get to the next stage, so be mindful of what you say. Showcase your skills, experiences and how well you would fit into the organisation. Provide strong examples of solutions to problem scenarios and showcase your accomplishments.

3. Do your research

Tying in with the first point, you should also prepare for your interview by doing thorough research on your potential employer. Researching your prospective employer highlights your interest to the interviewer and shows that you are prepared to invest your efforts in them. Avoid mere memorisation of facts about the company and form your own opinion. You can obtain such ideas and formulations by reading up on the company on their website, Googling them for news and visit their LinkedIn page. It is also important to find out who you are meeting; is it a line manager, someone from the HR department, or will there be more than one? Look up their backgrounds, their roles and what they do. Again, this can be done easily on LinkedIn.

4. Leave a great First Impression

Observations will be made not only on your verbal, but your non-verbal cues as well. Studies have shown that when meeting someone face to face, 93% of how you are judged is based on non-verbal data, such as your appearance and your body language. The remaining 7% is influenced by the words that you speak. Even during your initial encounter on the phone with the interviewer, over 70% of how you are perceived is based on your tone of voice and the 30% on your words. So it only makes sense that you ensure that you are attired properly. From the minute you walk into your interview, you are being assessed by your interviewer so always keep your interview answers positive. Communicate with a confident smile and a firm handshake or “hello” as they resonate positivity and show the interviewer that you are engaging actively with them.

5. Remember it is a two-way street

When in an interview, it is expected that you will be nervous and a little on edge. This is absolutely normal and you should not let it deter you. However, ensure that you are prepared to not only answer questions about the company, but to also ask questions back. A potential employer will want to know that you have researched their company (see point 3) so that you can discuss the basics and gradually move into current trends. Not only will this help add points to your interview, it will help you exude a confidence that will help with recall. Remember that the interviewer will be seeing several candidates besides yourself – someone who is interactive and communicative will stand out more as opposed to one who isn’t.

While the interview process will always be met with some nerves, there is absolutely no reason to be completely daunted by the prospect. Treat the interview process as a way of a company getting to know you, because that is essentially what it is. Be mindful of what you choose to say, maintain your authenticity, and remember; organisations may interview a lot of candidates, but you are equally important in the interview process as you do not want to join a company or take up a job that is not the right fit for you. Last but not least, good luck!

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe

Enjoyed what you read and want to learn more? Follow our GradGreenhouse page on LinkedIn for updated news, tips and our latest events.

Advice from… Michael Bloomberg – founder of Bloomberg LP

“My first job out of school was on Wall Street and I stayed there for 15 years. It was a terrific ride: Fun times, and lots of praise from my bosses. Everybody loved me – right up until the day they fired me! But I remained optimistic – because happiness for me has always been going out and trying to beat the odds. So the next day after I got fired, literally the next day, I started a new company.”

Advice from… Steve Jobs – co-founder of Apple Inc.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Stanford University, 2005

Advice from… Bill Gates – co-founder of Microsoft

My mother, who was filled with pride the day I was admitted here-never stopped pressing me to do more for others. A few days before my wedding, she hosted a bridal event, at which she read aloud a letter about marriage that she had written to Melinda. My mother was very ill with cancer at the time, but she saw one more opportunity to deliver her message, and at the close of the letter she said: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Harvard University, 2007