How to ace your graduate job

Posted on 27th May 2021

Finding your first graduate job is not always an easy ride. The most important starting point is getting your CV up to date, making it as relevant as possible for the roles which you are wanting to apply for. Then, once you’re happy with your CV, it’s a good idea to speak to your university’s careers team or student services department to see if they have any suggestions with your next steps or popular channels to find graduate jobs via.

If you’re still working on your CV or need help with your job search, check out our AXO Life “Recruitment Webinar” event. These sessions give you the chance to speak to a professional about your potential career path and draft a career development plan – check out the AXO Life calendar in our most recent newsletter sent out to find out when the next webinar is.

Now, let’s say that you have successfully submitted your job application, passed the interview stage and landed your first graduate job – go you! What happens next? We know that for a lot of you this can be unfamiliar territory. That’s why we’ve put together some of our top tips on how you should handle your first job role.

Trust yourself

First things first, have trust in yourself! The job market is very competitive, so the chances are many candidates applied to the same role as you. However, you were the one who landed it! Out of all the CV’s submitted and interviews conducted, you were the best and your new employers chose you.

Let the knowledge of this give you confidence. You worked hard to secure your new role and you’ll work even harder to succeed within it. Focus on your abilities and strong points and try to convey them in your new role.

Be punctual  

Nothing says ‘I won’t let you down’ more than a person who’s punctual (and nothing irritates a manager more than one who is not). By arriving to work on time every day you’re showing your new managers and colleagues that they can trust you. If you’re commuting to work, check your train and bus times the night before so that you can plan your journey. Aim to arrive 10 minutes early, this will ensure that your morning is not rushed.

There may be disruptions on your commute resulting in you running late. In these cases, it’s best to keep your manager up to date, message/email them well before your start time and make sure they are aware of the situation.

What to wear 

Office attire has seen a lot of changes over the years. An increasing number of workplaces have adapted to a more relaxed approach than the ‘suited and booted’ days of old. As co-working spaces gain popularity so has workplace comfort – but what does this mean for your office attire?

A big factor determining your dress code is the company you work for and your office space. If you’re going to start working for a corporate company then the chances are you’ll be expected to look smart/professional. However, if it’s a start-up company and your office is a co-working hub, you’ll probably get away with dressing more casually.

To play it safe we recommend picking out professional office outfits for your first few weeks. Keep an eye out for what your colleagues are wearing and adapt accordingly. It also wouldn’t hurt to send an email to your manager-to-be in advance to see what they would recommend.

What to take with you

The first day of work usually consists of a bit of admin work. Your manager will need to put you on to the payroll, for this you’ll need to take your National Insurance number, VISA details (if you require a work VISA) and an ID.

To show your new manager you mean business (literally) you can email them a few days before your first day to ask about the things you’ll need to bring in. You can even write about how you’re looking forward to your first day and to start working for them! Don’t be shy about showing off your enthusiasm, managers appreciate this a lot.

Making friends at work 

Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! It might sound obvious, but a powerful way of enjoying your time at work is by making sure you get on well with your colleagues. All of this sounds great, but how exactly do you create these friendships?

Get to know your colleagues. You may be nervous during the first few weeks, this is normal as you’re entering a new environment. Rest assured though, this won’t last long. Once this period is over and you feel settled in, you’ll hopefully start to come out of your shell – you can’t go wrong with simply being upbeat and friendly in the meantime.

Break the ice with your new colleagues by offering to make them a hot drink when you’re going to make yourself one or start a casual chat over a coffee break by asking them, for example, what they got up to over the weekend. Your colleagues will see the effort you’re making and likely reciprocate it.

Remember to keep a professional tone. While forming friendships at work is fun, it’s also important to remember that you’re in the workplace. Keep your conversations light, do not overshare, and don’t say anything that might get you into trouble.

If you are working from home 

Your first graduate job may (at least initially) require you to work from home! If this is the case for you, all the above points may still apply, but they might need some slight tweaking.

Trusting yourself stays the same whether you work in an office or at home. Being punctual is still important, if not even more so, as your manager may be keeping an eye out for how responsive you are from home during your probationary period. In terms of work attire, you can get away with anything comfortable for most of the day, just make sure you look presentable for any video meetings.

The paperwork required to put you on the payroll will need to be emailed or scanned over. If you’re unsure what to do, ask your manager to have a good idea of how you can send your documents over.

The tricky part of it all may be making friends. Working from home can make forming new relationships difficult, as your casual contact is less than it would be in the office. In an office space you come across team members that you do not directly work with, therefore have a chance to speak and get to know them. There is less chance of this happening virtually.

However, this does not mean that you will not be introduced to the wider team. A lot of managers now send an email to the whole team introducing you, this may sound daunting, but everyone will likely be super friendly and welcome you to the team – so make sure you respond to thank them and state how great it is to join them!

When it comes to the people you work with daily, it’ll be a lot easier as you’ll be in contact more regularly. Try to make conversation with them before your meetings start, you can ask how their day is going if they have plans or perhaps complain about the weather (the latter usually gets a conversation kick-started at any time of year aha!).

Enjoy it

To secure your first graduate job is no easy feat. Take pride in your work and your achievements to land the job in the first place. You worked very hard to get the role and remember that they picked you for it due to this hard work and effort. After a difficult, yet successful, job hunt you’ve got your foot in the door of your first professional role! At long last you’re going to earn your own money and climb the ladders of your professional development – so our best advice would be – enjoy it, you’ve earned it 😉.