Entry into the working world is exciting, especially after years of hard studying. But besides the joy of leaving your books behind, many young graduates also encounter challenges starting their first job.
According to a recent survey by Monster.com in Singapore, 61% of Singaporeans pointed to a lack of industry knowledge and experience as their biggest challenge. But like every obstacle, it’s something you can overcome. Here are some of the common issues we all face at the beginning of our careers – and how to deal with them.
Lack of industry knowledge and experience
With most Singaporeans finding this the biggest challenge, sufficient knowledge is a crucial issue. However, especially when starting out, it’s very common to have little experience and understanding of the industry. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you feel you don’t have enough know-how, do something about it.
An easy way to gain knowledge is to read up about your industry in articles, journals, opinion pieces and trade publications. Besides keeping an eye on the news, you should consider listening to industry podcasts, join webinars and attend talks by industry leaders. Plenty of these are available online.
Lack of mentorship
Having someone who advises and guides you in a new company or industry is a great resource for anyone. One-third of Singaporeans said they experienced a lack of mentorship when starting their first job. Should you be in the same situation, don’t sit and complain, instead be proactive and find someone to learn from. Your company might not formally assign you a mentor, but that doesn’t stop you from informally learning from one of your superiors.
Your mentor should be ideally from your company, but he/she could also be someone that you met at an industry event or is more senior in your career path. Don’t misunderstand your mentor as a micro-manager – he/she is someone who can tell you about the ins and outs of your industry and offer advice.
One thing is guaranteed – you will start at the lower end of the salary ladder in the beginning. More than 26% of those polled in Singapore said they found their first salary very challenging. Although you might have to start low, your salary doesn’t have to stay there.
One way to prevent a bad starting salary is doing your research. How much is someone in your position earning in the industry? Once you have a fair average, you can use that information in your negotiation. Try to make an objective judgement about whether your qualification matches the salary offered to you. And remember, good performance is usually rewarded after you have proven yourself in the job.
Not fully prepared for working life
Starting your career is a defining moment in your life that comes with many lifestyle changes. According to the survey from Monster.com in Singapore, over 27% of Singaporeans indicated they didn’t feel fully prepared to jump into working life.
One of the biggest differences is that you will be working on a wider range of projects with people from various backgrounds. Learning how to handle people with different interests and skills to you, while being flexible and efficient will help you tremendously. Working with your colleagues, you have to learn how to manage upwards, such as suggesting solutions and spotting problems.
Regular overtime work and long hours are tiring for everyone. Around one-quarter of Singaporeans have found this to be a challenging aspect. But there are a few ways you can deal with it. Although you want to make a good impression on your bosses, you should only take work home on rare occasions and only when pressing deadlines cannot be avoided. As much as you can, it’s important to leave it behind you once you leave the office.
A common reason for long hours is inefficiency at work. Handling many projects at the same time can slow down your progress. Make sure you start with the most important tasks first and work your way down the list. While it’s important to take short breaks during the day, you should reduce your time on social media in the office.