Five goals to achieve in your first year on the job

By Heather Jennings

The first year in your new career is crucial to laying the foundations for future success. Make your first 12 months in the job count by ticking off these five important career goals.

Landing your first full-time job is an incredible achievement, but it is only the beginning. There are many smart moves you can make to build skills, foster relationships and mature both professionally and personally. You should regard it as the time to put in place strategies to achieve your career goals. Here’s how to make it count.

Find a mentor

Finding a mentor should be one of the first things on your to-do list at your new job. Seek out someone who is senior and who has been with the organization for at least two years. Choose a person who you have a good rapport with and would feel comfortable in sharing your highs and lows.

Ask if they would like to be your mentor for a year and discuss what it would involve. You may both decide to meet for a coffee once a week to track your progress and seek advice. A good mentor should be your confidante, be able to explain the company culture and help you with career direction.

Start networking

Establishing relationships within your company is essential for your professional growth.

Firstly, ensure you make a note of everybody’s name and title in the company – all the way from the receptionist up to the CEO.

Early on in your role is a great opportunity to meet your co-workers, and also target senior employees. Watch how they operate and seek advice from them. Another smart move is to help colleagues if they ask. It will give you a great reputation as someone who is conscientious, keen to learn and a team player. 

Don’t just leave conversation to office hours. Attend after-work drinks, lunch-hour sports and any other social activities so you can really get to know your colleagues in a social situation.

Prove your worth

You may have scored the job, but the onus is on you to establish trust by going above and beyond in your first year. Be sure to listen, ask questions and check in with your boss if you are unsure what you are doing at any point.

If you feel the role is different from the original job description, take the initiative to organize a meeting with your manager and discuss how you can best meet your goals and objectives. 

Another key way to show you are serious about your role is putting in the extra hours. That doesn’t always mean working 18-hour days, but making a habit of getting in half an hour early to set yourself up for the day and not rushing out the door as soon as the clock hits five won’t go unnoticed by your superiors.

Track your wins

Don’t forget to maintain a list of all your contributions and accomplishments throughout the year – from learning the OH&S policy in record time to luring a new client to the company. No achievement is too big or small.

Having a range of accomplishments to cover off will be especially helpful when your quarterly and end-of-year performance reviews roll around.

Keep learning

After just coming out of college, you might be sick of the sight of textbooks, but it’s vital to show your employer how keen you are to grow your skills and knowledge. Volunteer for that industry breakfast or training course, and come back with relevant insights for your company. Additionally, you can suggest ways things can be improved or streamlined.

Ideally you want to be the person your manager calls on for help with tricky projects or new developments within the organization. Showing your commitment to learn and solve problems will position you as an invaluable resource to the company. 

From finding a mentor to forming contacts and building your skills, there are a number of goals you can start working on from day one to make your mark.

Starting your first job can be overwhelming, but if you are enthusiastic and conscientious early on, it won’t go unnoticed. In fact, there’s a good chance it will set you up for promotion, progression and career success.