Your first job is an exciting experience, but it can feel overwhelming, too. Every new job is a learning experience, but your first job is a crash course. You’re getting accustomed to a whole new world and handling things like negotiations, tax forms, and professional emails for the very first time.
If you’re landed your first gig and are hoping to gain a few tips from the experts, we’re here to help. Read on to learn our favorite tips for first-time job holders.
Salaries are Negotiable
If you’ve ever watched a TV show that takes place in an office, you’ve probably bared witness to a salary negotiation. It’s the thing that job-seekers dread the most. It can feel vulnerable and uncomfortable—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
Here’s the thing: most employers expect you to negotiate. Because of that, their initial offer to you is likely a low ball. They expect you to negotiate up, and you should.
Unsure where to start? Allow us to guide you. Begin your salary negotiation by finding out the average salary for others in your position. There are plenty of websites that have this information. Remember to adjust based on your experience (which at this point is probably minimal).
Once you’ve got a number in mind, increase it. Just like you can expect your employer to lowball you, you should expect them to negotiate whatever number you suggest down. Give yourself a little wiggle room with your salary by scaling it up to begin with.
Finally, remember that negotiation doesn’t have to be as dramatic as it is on TV. Just have a conversation of what salary you were hoping for, and be prepared to tell your employer why you deserve it.
Other Things are Negotiable, too
If you’re thinking about a negotiation, remember that salary isn’t the only thing you can negotiate. While health care typically isn’t negotiable, things like time off, working hours, remote work, and more are all up for negotiation. Decide which of these things are deal breakers and which would simply be nice to have, and negotiate accordingly.
Show Up Prepared on Day One
While you may not know exactly what to expect on your first day, there are a few different things to prepare for. For one, you’re going to be learning a lot of important information. Be prepared to write it all down. Come with a professional-looking notebook and a pencil or pen, even if you expect a work laptop. You don’t want to show up empty handed on day one.
The next thing you can expect is a good amount of paperwork. Employers usually use your first day to get you onboarded in their HR system. That means personal information, tax info, and more. Even if your employer doesn’t mention it, it’s a good idea to show up with your driver’s license, birth certificate or passport, and your Social Security card. That way, you can be prepared to fill out tax paperwork about dependents, tax allowances, and more.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
Your first day on the job can feel a lot like your first day of school. You’re in a totally new environment where it feels like everyone knows everything—and you know next to nothing.
In situations like these, it can feel tempting to retreat into yourself and adopt a “nod and smile” attitude, even if you’re totally lost inside. You may be worried about revealing how little you know or intimidated by interacting with your mentor. Our advice is to resist that urge. If you don’t know something, ask.
Asking questions isn’t only important because it gets you pertinent information. It also shows your mentor that you’re an active listener who is thinking critically about what they’re saying and processing the information in a logical way. It also gets you interacting with your new managers and coworkers and will help speed up the process of learning to feel at home.
Start your job off on the right foot by following these tips and going in with a positive attitude.