The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Negotiating a minefield

When you’ve worked so hard to get that first job after university, the last thing you want is to screw it up. Sadly, new grads do it all the time.

The problem rarely stems from lack of knowledge or poor technical skills. It often goes back to something simpler: your persona at the workplace, particularly during your first few weeks on the job.

Remember the spot on your second-grade report card that said “works and plays well with others”' This skill is still important, because it’s shockingly easy to make an awful first impression on your new colleagues — the kind that will taint your reputation the entire time you’re with the organisation.

How do you save yourself and perhaps even your career' Here are four key attitudes and behaviours.

You don’t know what you don’t know

You may be a smart cookie, but as a 20-something, you’re still a relative newbie in the business world.

So tread lightly when it comes to sharing your ground-breaking ideas, especially when you’re the new person.

Resist the temptation to jump in and take over projects or to assume that you know how things should be done. Older colleagues with more experience will perceive this behaviour as arrogance and will quickly dismiss your valuable input.

A sincere ‘thank you’ goes a long way

Isn’t it nice to hear “thank you” once in a while' Your co-workers too feel the same way. And so does your boss.

Also, you might forget sometimes, but your manager too is a human being who likes to feel appreciated, just as you do. So why not'

That means that if your manager takes you to lunch, gives you a gift, bonus or raise, or even hosts a company party, you should reply with a heartfelt ‘thank you.’ That’s the least that you can do as response.

Few go above and beyond

You’ll be amazed by the number of clock-watchers you’ll be working with. These workers do only what’s asked of them and put in their 40 hours a week.Their indifference can be your gain if you take on additional assignments once in a while. Happy volunteers rack up points. Companies are impressed with junior staffers who are willing to pay their dues and and pitch in to help. By exhibiting this type of can-do attitude, you’ll show that you believe in hard work, advancement and team spirit.

Listening is highly underrated

This should be an obvious one, but many entry-level workers are anxious to prove their knowledge, and they speak without listening first. The unintended result: An image of a snotty know-it-all with no regard for more experienced colleagues. So learn to really listen. When you understand what people are saying to you and need of you rather than always focusing on your own agenda, you garner respect from your colleagues as someone who is attentive and also cares.

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