What advice would you give someone starting their first job?

My eldest son starts his first full time job on Monday and I wanted to help him out by giving him the advice I wish I'd received a century ago when I started my first job.

I remember starting my first job all those years ago and I must confess that at the time I thought I knew it all. The truth is I didn't know what I didn't know - and that was a LOT!

The young people of today seem to be a lot more receptive to listening to those who have been there and done that. When I went to work back in 1980 there was a real generation gap. Youngsters felt they knew it all, and those with a few more years under their belt felt only they had all the answers and that these young upstarts knew absolutely nothing.

With changes in technology, marketing and business - I think today's world is a lot different. It is one in which youngsters have a very valuable contribution to make and it would be crazy not to listen to them.

On the flip side, there are many people who have a few more years under their belt that have got an amazing wealth of real knowledge. We're not talking knowledge about the latest fashion or techno-fad, but real-life lessons learned over several decades - and this is what I want to share with my son.

So, over the last few days I've been putting together a list of points that I feel it is important for my son to take onboard when starting this first full time job. Of course, he can choose to ignore this advice and sail his own ship in whatever direction he chooses (and who knows he might be totally right), but if even just half the things mentioned here turn out to be useful navigation points on his journey then I feel it will have been time well spent.

Please do share your thoughts and any anecdotes below as I'm sure I've not covered everything, and it will be wonderful for him to hear it from other people.

So here are the things that immediately sprang to mind.

  • Honesty
  • Smartness
  • Understanding
  • Timekeeping
  • Cleanliness
  • Tidiness
  • Planning
  • Think outside the box
  • Follow instructions
  • Listen
  • Be a team player
  • Put yourself forward
  • Assume you know nothing
  • Don't under estimate what you already know
  • Eat healthily
  • Get sleep
  • Don't spend money before you get it
  • Save money
  • Help others
  • Be organised
  • Keep an address book
  • Network
  • Be positive
  • Don't be negative
  • Arrive early
  • Always have a notepad
  • Take notes at all meetings
  • Send thank-yous
  • Enjoy yourself
  • Have good work-life balance
  • Don't think work owes you anything
  • Remember you are not indispensable
  • Be willing to start early and work late
  • Be a can-do and never a can't do
  • Dress appropriately
  • Do background reading about the job
  • Be confident (they gave you the job so they must already like you)
  • Do background reading on the company
  • Ask questions
  • Speak clearly
  • Be authentic - be you
  • Set-up your communications (email, sms, voicemail, etc)
  • Be respectful
  • Write everything down
  • Start a todo list
  • Be clear about priorities
  • Eat breakfast and don't skip lunch
  • Say thank you

What have I missed?

Which of the above do you think are most important?

Do you have any anecdotes to help illustrate these points?

Thanks for your help with this!!!

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