Welcome to the real world. If you played your cards correctly, you’ve been preparing to start a new job since graduation day wrapped up in December, or maybe you’re on the spring swing and are fine tuning your post grad routine ahead of the game, so you can hit the job search running.
Either way, ‘Grown-up 101’ was not likely offered at your Alma Mater — or you slept through it — and now you have to transition from college coursework to a full-time career. It can be difficult to know what to expect as a freshly educated young professional and how to keep adjusting to adult life after you tuck that cap and gown into the back of your closet.
You may think you have a good idea — and common sense goes a long way — but have you created the successful adult habits you need to reach your career goals? Here is how to adult professionally this year and start your career off right:
Lose the snooze
Let’s make this clear. There’s no such thing as sleeping in during the working week.
Hitting snooze is a bad habit to get into, but that’s what got you through college. Long nights of studying and shorter mornings rushing to grab coffee and make it to class.
Rolling out of bed 30 minutes before starting time isn’t going to cut it anymore. You might have been able to get away with it senior year, but your boss isn’t going to be as forgiving when you roll in halfway through a meeting with bedhead.
Being late is unacceptable when you’re a professional adult, so get in the habit of waking up when your alarm goes off the first time. And set it plenty early to be refreshed and ready for the workday.
Stop watching the clock
You’ll quickly realize that the work-life balance you thought you would have is starting to blur, and working a standard nine to five isn’t really a typical work day, anymore.
In fact, a 2015 CareerBuilder survey of more than 1,000 full-time workers in information technology, financial services, sales, and professional and business industries found that 63 percent of workers in these industries believe ‘working nine to five’ is an outdated concept.
Understand that your employer expects you to meet your deadlines. Just because the clock strikes five, doesn’t mean you are done for the day. And no one is going to manage your time for you. So make the best use of it by setting goals, rather than watching for the ‘bell’ to ring.
Get in the habit of writing a task list every morning — then check it off throughout the day. Keep track of time by how long each task will take you. For example, next to each project give yourself an allotted time: 3 hours; 1 hour; 30 minutes; etc.
It’s a great way to work quickly through your work day while impressing your new employer.
Don’t browse on the company’s dime
Don’t let your boss catch you tweeting and scrolling through your Facebook news feed. That’s not what they hired you for.
A new survey by BambooHR reported that 68 percent of employees feel using social media for personal reasons, as a break from work tasks, is appropriate.
We get it. Scanning your social feeds is part of your morning routine. If you do need to ween yourself off social media sites, consume your news in other ways. Make the sites you visit relevant and appropriate to your professional development.
Look to a few online news outlets to read throughout the morning. You could even follow a few industry related blogs and can share any cool, new tech apps you read about with your boss. Keeping up with industry trends is a great way to show your employer you intend to grow with it.
Look the part
Unless the office has bikes on the wall, foosball in the break room, and your boss refers to your team as ‘ninjas,’ dressing like a hipster is not appropriate. In other words, don’t expect to be able to show up to the office wearing an oversized flannel, beanie and boots.
Generally, the office has a dress code. Consult with HR before you start to make sure you have an understanding of what’s appropriate to wear and what is not.
The night before work, an interview or any other professional event, figure out what you are going to wear the next day. It’s always safe to go with a business-casual style. But making a habit of consciously choosing appropriate attire ahead of time will save you time the morning of and get you out the door confident, professionally groomed and ready to take on the day.
Here are a few professional fashion faux pas to avoid:
- distracting jewelry
- wrinkled dress shirts
- jeans (unless OK’d by employer)
- tight pants
- yoga pants
- flip flops
- ugg boots
- untrimmed facial hair
Whether your chosen field is casual, creative or suit and tie professional, it’s important to dress in work appropriate clothing.
What do you think? How do you plan to ‘adult’ at work this year?
Article contributed by Val Matta
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for university career centers and HR professionals that gives job seekers complete control over their search. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.