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The First Jobber: I Got My First Job. Now What?

by Kausern Hieu, Country Manager of Nuffnang Malaysia. |

The First Jobber series is designed to help fresh graduates make that transition from student to employee. There are a lot of mistakes you can make and a lot of time wasted if you don’t know what to look out for. Personally, I wasted a lot of my precious time trying to figure all these out by myself after I graduated.

Hence, as an employer now, I wish to share some tips and actionable steps with you with the hope of helping you secure the job that you want and subsequently for you to adjust well into your first job.


After 17 years of sitting in a classroom downloading knowledge, getting tested and finally a graduate, you’re about to embark on this life changing journey - joining the workforce. So, you submitted a few applications, attended a few interviews and lo and behold, you successfully landed yourself a job, your first “real” job!

Within your first week at work, you will soon discover that things are quite different from school. No exams, yay! But the bad news is that you’ll be tested every day. Your professor in the university will not say much if you don’t get good grades but in the office environment, if you miss your deadlines, your boss is going to form an opinion about you. Suddenly, there seems to be just too many land mines at work to avoid. To be fair, everyone's workplace is a little different. Hence, there isn’t a one size fits all answer. No such thing as a, “To succeed in school, all you need to do is to score good grades.”

However, I’ve learnt there are some universal tips on how to crush your first job and make a good impression. I hope you’ll find these helpful to help you navigate successfully at your new workplace.

1. Be mentally prepared that it’s going to be hard

When you start your new job, you want to feel like you have all your responsibilities under control. You want to make a good impression with your colleagues and bosses. However, the reality is you’re not going to be in control most of the time. There are 3 major areas you have to deal with: Your job responsibility, your company’s products and services and your company’s culture. And within those areas, there are going to be many moving parts such as demanding bosses, unhelpful colleagues and nasty clients.

Yes, I am over-exaggerating but no matter how you slice it, you will bound to experience some level of stress.

2. Be a sponge

Yes, you might get a little overwhelmed, but it’s all about one’s perspective and attitude. You can turn any crisis into a sponging opportunity.

Because you’re new to this position, your manager and co-workers will be walking you through your responsibilities. Be curious and ask why things are done a certain way and do your best to absorb your seniors’ reasoning. There will be a time to offer your suggestions for improvement, but resist the urge to do so until you have a deeper understanding of how things work.

When you have the growth mindset and is constantly hungry for knowledge, then your job would become easier (and fun!). However, do watch out for a burnout if you’ve just been saying “yes” to everything.

3. Don't miss a deadline.

Meet all your deadlines. Period.

You can worry about standing out later. You just need to get your core responsibility done as efficiently as possible.

And be to work on time every day and keep your desk clean. Why? It’s because there will be times when you will miss a deadline and you wouldn’t want your manager to single you out right away as being unproductive if you’ve not been punctual to work and your desk is a disorganised mess.

4. When you don't know how to do something, ask.

Your manager and your co-workers expect you to carry out your job correctly. Hence, the best way to do this is to ask questions and actively listen to their feedback. Ask clarifying questions to avoid miscommunication. Do not assume.

Constantly check-in with your boss to report your work-in-progress so that he/she can steer you back on track if you have gone off on a tangent.

That said, don’t overdo it by asking too many questions. You could come across as annoying. You could be sending out the wrong signal that you need your manager’s help with every small decision. Ask enough questions and be initiative to connect the dots yourself.

Another scenario that would irritate your manager and co-workers is if you keep repeating your mistakes even after you have asked them the same questions many times over.

5. Make a good impression with various people in your organization.

You didn’t join a company to make new friends. However, you need friends at work if you want to succeed.

As mentioned, your first job will be pretty overwhelming. That’s why having friends at work is important. You don’t need to have a BFF at the workplace but working with people you like can help you navigate the company’s spoken and unspoken culture. They can literally power you through the day because you feel supported. And when you feel supported, you’re going to produce better work.

So, do make an effort to introduce yourself around the office and start going out lunch with

your colleagues.

6. Manage your boss

If you are able to make your boss’ job easier, the quicker you will become more valuable in the company. No, I’m not suggesting you to be an apple polisher!

You see, if you’re creating more problems than giving solutions to your boss, you’re not going to be adding value to him/her. Instead, you’ll be a burden. Being a manager myself, I would hope for my staff to eventually be able to handle their workload independently after a few months into the job.

So, how you can manage up is to simply ask what’s your boss’ goals and how you can support him/her. Align your own goals with your boss’ goals and the rest of your team mates. Always be a part of the solution, don’t be a roadblock.

7. Be proactive

I can safely say that every boss love to hear, “What else can I do?” from their staff. However, if you’re doing this just to impress your boss, stop. While it’s important to come across as an initiative individual, remember you need to be good with the job you were hired to do in the first place. Walk before you can run.

After you’ve proven yourself with your core responsibilities, you can start looking to go above and beyond into other areas of the company where you can add value and improve your skills.

For example, if you have some raw talent of an emcee, volunteer yourself to be the emcee for the company’s upcoming annual dinner. This will force you to grow and it will also serve as a platform for you to shine as a team player.

At the end of the day, you would want to be known as the person who always asks for opportunities.

In closing, creating a good impression is important when you’re the new kid on the block. However, as cliché as this sounds, you don’t have be someone else in order to achieve that but focus on growing to be the best version of yourself.

If you have any further queries about this topic, please leave a comment or write to crunch@nuffnang.com.

Next article from The First Jobber series: When Is The Right Time to Ask For A Promotion or A Salary Raise?

Previous articles:

Should I Apply to Work in A Big Company or a Small Company?

What to Put On Your Resume if You Have No Job Experience

How to Standout in An Interview for New Graduates

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