Fresh-faced and full of optimism, new graduates are streaming out of their degree ceremonies across the country. LinkedIn data shows that a quarter of the “class of 2015” will take the well-trodden road to London, where many will start their first roles in the City of London. Financial services, IT, accounting and management consulting were all in the top 10 most popular sectors for last year’s graduates.
It may feel like the hard part is over once you’ve signed on the dotted line and entered a graduate scheme, but the initial weeks and months of a job are crucial to future success. You can only make a first impression once, and for graduates new to working in an office environment, it can be a minefield.
Here are a few tips to get you on the right track in your new role:
Show, don't tell
Months of writing job applications can make it all too easy to fall into career clichés. We know that people over-use the words “motivated,” “creative,” “enthusiastic” and “passionate” on LinkedIn, so stand out by injecting personality when talking to new colleagues about your experience.
Use examples of past work to paint a picture, talk about specific projects you’re proud of – and avoid sounding like you’ve swallowed a business glossary.
Polish your professional image
Chances are your employer has spent years honing the business’s brand – and there’s no reason you can’t do the same as a professional. This is true for both your in-office persona and your online presence.
Take note of the office dress code, but remember that it’s better to be too smart than look sloppy. Try to keep your desk in reasonable order and stay away from earphones until you know what’s acceptable.
Your co-workers are likely to look you up on LinkedIn before you set foot in the door, so make sure your photo looks professional, you’ve added your skills and achievements, and update your profile with your new role. You should even consider asking a tutor from university to give you a recommendation before you join – there’s no better first impression than someone else singing your praises.
Be more than your job title
Naturally, your focus when you start a new role will be to prove you can be great at your job, but don’t be afraid to let your colleagues see that you have other interests too.
If you volunteer, tell people about the causes you care about; many companies encourage their employees to donate their time to charities and it can be a great way to pick up new skills. From playing in a local football league to having a burning passion for baking, show you’re a real person.
Don't be an office wallflower
Although you may feel like a lowly grad, remember that your boss is still a human being. A healthy respect is necessary, but where appropriate take the time to talk to them about things, whether work-related or not.
Connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn is a great way to make sure your workmates know who you are. It also gives you the opportunity to show them you’re switched on by sharing interesting content.
Darain Faraz works at LinkedIn.