By Lindsay Olson
You want to make a splash at your first job and set your path to success. To that end, you want to filter through the countless pieces of advice out there and get the really good nuggets of wisdom to help you succeed.
Below, experts give their single best pieces of advice for a recent graduate starting in her first job.
1. Create your own career growth plan. No one else will chart your path to success; it's up to you to do so. Julia Doria, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Bailey Lauerman, a digital marketing and ad agency, shares an example of how a new graduate charted his own course:
"From the first day he arrived, he was very clear: He wanted to grow and had a plan with key milestones, specific areas he'd like to gain experience [in] and knowledge and ways he'd like to stay connected. He also followed through," she says. "He set recurring meeting invitations where it was time dedicated to reviewing his progress and a chance for him to get perspective and input on obstacles he may have encountered."
Doria said she found this approach to be incredibly refreshing and rewarding for both her and the employee. She was able to provide him with guidance and direction, as well as help him advance his career.
2. Show Initiative. In high school, teachers prodded you to get your work turned in on time, but once you transitioned to college, you didn't have that extra support from professors. With your first job, you have another transition: Your boss isn't going to look over your shoulder constantly or always tell you what you need to do.
Chaz Pitts-Kyser, author of "Careeranista: The Woman's Guide to Success After College," says that simply doing what your boss expects you do to won't impress him much. Instead, she says, "Look for ways that you can help your boss or department meet key goals, be it cutting costs, boosting productivity, simplifying a process or better serving customers."
3. Don't show off. While you want to stand out, there's a fine line between doing a stellar job and being recognized for it – and deliberately seeking attention. The latter won't win you any friends or impress your boss.
"Don't show off. It is unappreciated, makes you look like you are kissing up and will ultimately undermine your credibility with both your manager and your peers," says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide." He continues: "No one likes working with a 'brown nose.' The best way to distinguish yourself is to work hard, stay late, don't complain and spend time with key decision makers."
4. Keep learning. If you're lucky, your company will offer professional development opportunities. But if not, take it on yourself. Jessica G. Hartung, founder and CEO of professional development company Integrated Work, says that you are in charge of your career, and what you choose to learn will help you drive your career's direction.
"Develop an individualized learning agenda or professional development plan. What are the main skills, knowledge and abilities you need to grow in order to move in the directions you find most interesting? Make it happen," she says. "You've got people networks, access to online resources, opportunities to volunteer, mentors and family. Self-directed learning is a lifelong pursuit. Those who are most successful in their careers don't leave learning to chance."
5. Work harder than everyone else. It sounds too simple to work, but hard work is guaranteed to pay off. Lauren Herskovic, chief operating officer of Admissionado, an admissions consulting firm, says this adage is what helped her climb her way to her current position, and it's what gets her employees promoted.
"As a boss, there's nothing better than knowing I can trust someone with the work I give them," she says. "Not only that they're going to do it, but they're going to do it efficiently and do it better than I expected." She says that when an employee volunteers to take on more projects or comes in early and leaves late, it shows dedication and passion for his or her job. "Those are all amazing qualities that speak volumes and go a long way in my book. I want that guy on my team long term," she says. "And I'll do just about anything to keep him here."
6. Build the right relationships. The sooner you realize careers are built on networking, the sooner you can succeed. Lea McLeod, job success coach and author of "The Resume Coloring Book," says you should, "identify the five most important relationships you need to build in the office, and then start building them."
That might be your boss, a co-worker or even someone in another department. Building strategic relationships will help you thrive at your current position, as well as get you insight into what your next career move should be.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. Hoojobs was voted as a Top Career website by Forbes. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues and is chief editor of the HooHireWire – The Hoojobs Guide to Hiring & Getting Hired.