We all know the old saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”, and whilst it might sound like a cliché, it’s grounded in fact. Planning ahead — whether that’s for an interview or your first day at work — will give you a much better chance of success. And because we want you to do your very best, we’ve asked our extremely experienced Branch Managers to impart their expert knowledge on preparing for a successful career.
If you’re not quite sure what it is you want to do, a good starting point is to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, then consider which roles play to your strengths. If there are specific companies you’d love to work for — or industries you want to work in — carry out plenty of research by visiting websites, reading trade press, and ingratiating yourself with them through social media.
You also need to think about what’s important to you in a job, such as location, pay, development opportunities and flexibility. This will help you to refine your career search. If you’re still not sure which job you’re best suited to, taking on short-term temporary assignments can help you to identify whether an area is right for you.
Whilst you can’t necessarily control what happens on your first day (your new employer will no doubt have their own agenda), you can control how you approach it. Making a good impression at this stage is essential, so follow these tips for a drama-free first day:
- Your first day can involve lots of form-filling, so find out what you need to take with you (passport, bank details, medical information)
- Make sure you know who to ask for when you get there, taking their number in case of emergency
- Allow plenty of time for your journey and do a test run the night before
- Try to have a good night’s sleep before your first day, but don’t lie there worrying about it if you can’t drop off; the main thing is that you’re resting
- Find out whether there’s anywhere to buy lunch from in the vicinity. If not, make sure you take something with you. There’s nothing worse than working on an empty stomach
- Whether it’s smart/casual, uniform, or business attire, make sure you know the dress code well in advance of your first day
Whether you’re running or attending a meeting — with your team or board of Directors — you should always be clear about why the meeting is being held, what you want to achieve from it, and what problems might arise.
- Have the time and place of the meeting booked in your diary, and set a reminder
- Make sure you know who else is attending and what their role is
- Familiarise yourself with the topics to be covered
- Clarify the objective of the meeting and prepare points for discussion
- Find out whether you need to bring anything along, like your own laptop
4. Planning your next move
If you’ve decided that it’s time to move on to pastures new, a little pre-planning is essential. After all, you need to know what you want to achieve from your next move, otherwise it’s not going to get you far. Consider:
- What you’re looking for from your next role (career progression, new skills)
- What’s important to you (salary, flexibility, location)
- What you love about your current role (customer contact, varied workload)
- What you’d like to change (manageable hours, less admin)
- What motivates you (incentives, team activities, long-term objectives)
- What’s a ‘must have’ and what’s a ‘nice to have’ (more responsibility vs. increased holiday entitlement)
If you want to be seen as a serious candidate for promotion, you need to get yourself noticed for the right reasons:
- Portray yourself as a professional in the way that you act, dress and speak
- Be willing to go the extra mile to get the job done
- If you want to go far, you’ll have to put the hours in, so don’t clock-watch
- Where possible, try to keep sickness absence to a minimum
- Offer to take on additional responsibilities in a range of areas, and don’t complain if you’re given something that’s out of your usual comfort area
When you’re unhappy at work, it can be all too tempting to turn your back on your employer, but there are some important things to consider before taking this final step:
- Make sure you have something else lined up, otherwise it can reflect badly on you when looking for your next role — and if the job market within your chosen area is competitive, as most are, you don’t know when the next position will come up
Take a little time to calm down and reflect on the situation. You might just need a few days away from the office to collect your thoughts and refocus
- Make a list of your likes and dislikes about your current job: are things really that bad, or do the good things balance out the bad?
- Give yourself a good talking to: could you be getting more out of your current job?
- If you’re really unhappy, try talking to your manager before handing in your notice — there might be something they can do to make your life a bit easier
- If you’re sure you want to leave, follow the correct steps and remain professional: references are precious commodities for future employment
If you need any additional help in planning for a truly remarkable career, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We always love to hear from you.