Ten things I wish all first jobbers knew

Posted on: 2012-05-22 in How To   |   Tagged: b2b pr first day on the job pr career pr careers pr jobs pr work experience working in pr

By Heather Baker, @TopLineFounder

Congratulations, you’ve done it! You’ve landed your first ever real job and it’s in PR. This in itself is quite an achievement – we know that the PR job market is tough, particularly for graduates.

But once you’re done celebrating, the stomach butterflies will probably start fluttering as it dawns on you that while you know you will be completely out of your depth on your first few days, you will nevertheless be expected to perform to a certain standard.  

We've hired loads of excellent grads and taken them through the onboarding process, and here are the ten things I, as an employer, wish someone would tell all new starters (particularly grads) before their first day:

  • Ask for information beforehand. Email your employer the week before you start, asking if they have any information that you can read in advance that will make your first few weeks run smoothly. Maybe they have briefings on the clients you will be working on. Or perhaps they can send your induction manual. Whatever they send should be read cover to cover (actually, it should be studied).
  • Arrive on time. Obviously you don’t want to be late, but equally, try not to be more than ten minutes early. Your agency will have an induction programme for you that usually starts at 9. Whoever is responsible for this will have arrived early to get on top of other tasks first. But if YOU then arrive early, they can’t just leave you standing there – they have to abandon their breakfast / emails / reading the Daily Mail website to start showing you around.
  • Turn your cell phone off. While it might be acceptable within the company to take personal calls during office hours, show a bit of emotional intelligence by assuming that it is not (or by assuming that this is a privilege you need to earn and can’t be done on your first day). Popping out every time your phone rings or sending texts will not go unnoticed.
  • Write everything down. It is not humanly possible to remember all the things people will tell you in your first week. However, do your best to remember as many as possible by keeping a record of EVERYTHING you are told, from passwords, to processes, to things that will be part of your day-to-day job. Then read your notes daily until you have it.   
  • Clarify instructions. You will almost certainly make mistakes in your first few weeks. This shouldn’t be a problem and your employer will expect it, but you can impress people by mitigating the impact of the mistakes you make. That means that when someone gives you a task, take the instruction, internalise it, do a few minutes of research and then go back to them to explain how you plan to approach it. They will immediately be able to spot which tangent you are about to go off on (and there will be many!) and bring you back on track. This might be intimidating at first, but you will save yourself a lot of time and your team a lot of frustration by doing it this way.
  • Do your own research. If you don’t know how to do something, before asking someone to show you, look it up. There will almost certainly be a video on YouTube or an article on a blog somewhere that shows you how to do it. Once you have an overview THEN ask someone to show you the finer details. You won’t be expected to know how to do everything (or anything) on your first day, but you will impress people by showing some independence or initiative.
  • Use the spell checker. You might think you are a grammar whizz or a spelling star, and maybe you are. But don’t be overconfident. It takes less than a minute to do a spell check on a document, and it could save your boss the heartache of having to ask herself ‘have I made a mistake and hired a sloppy grad?’
  • Ask about formatting. Don’t just use your favourite font in the size you love. Check with someone (or research it yourself – see point above) if there is a preferred company style, and then use that.
  • Respond to every email. If a colleague or your boss asks you to do something via email, let them know that you have received the email and tell them when you will do the task. This is such a common and frustrating  habit among first jobbers. We need to know that you are coping and that you are getting our emails and you have to communicate that to us.
  • Tell us when something is done. It is annoying when you remember something you asked the new guy to do three days ago, you chase him on it and he respond with ‘oh, yes I did it on Monday.’ How the hell am I supposed to know that? If you don’t let me know it’s done, I can only assume that it isn’t and be annoyed at you.

Good luck!

Browse our other posts on working in PR.


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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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