10 Common Mistakes at Your First Job and How to Avoid Them

by McKenzie Chapman   Ulticareer  | Advice  | Life lesson  | Work tips  | Productivity  | 

Congratulations! You’re starting your first job. You’re probably nervous, but don’t worry! We made this list of common mistakes and how to avoid them so you can be prepared for the job ahead.  


1. Acting like you know everything 

You’re excited, you just got your first job, you’re feeling pretty special—and you should! Be proud of yourself, but always know that you have much to learn.  Everyone does! Not only will acting like you know everything stunt your learning, but it will also make people dislike you. Never be presumptuous and always keep an open mind.  


2. Constantly checking your phone 

It may feel like you’re missing out if you’re not checking your social media throughout the work day, but what you’re really missing out on is the opportunity to excel in your work. Checking your phone constantly looks bad, and for a good reason: it’s a distraction. A minute here and there can add up, so try to put your phone on silent throughout the day, or keep it stowed away in a drawer.  


3. Not thoroughly reading your contract 

You excitedly accepted the job, texted all your friends and family, and picked out the perfect outfit for your first day. But did you read the fine print on all those papers you received? Make sure you know what is expected of you, and take advantage of the benefits your job offers. Carefully reading those papers will greatly benefit you in the long run 


4. Not preparing for a meeting 

Remember how embarrassing it was in school when you didn’t do the homework but the teacher called on you? Your eyes went wide and you tried to glance around at your classmates for help, but unfortunately, you didn’t know the answer and you looked pretty foolish. Well, you really don’t want to repeat that mistake in front of your boss or an important client. Before every meeting be sure that you’re prepared. Some people say for every hour you’re going to spend in a meeting, spend an hour preparing for it. Go over your notes, take more notes, do research, write down questions, and plan for how you’ll move forward after the meeting. The meeting will flow and you’ll feel relieved when you’re well prepared.  


5. Not immediately owning up to your mistakes 

Everyone makes mistakes. At your first job you’re inevitably going to make some. But what’s even worse than making a mistake? Trying to cover it up. If you made a mistake, acknowledge it immediately. The sooner you address the mistake, the sooner you can work on a solution.  


6. Not asking questions 

If you don’t know something, ask. By now you know that acting like you know everything is detrimental. Your boss doesn’t expect you to know how to do it all. Their job is to support you. If you’re stuck, just ask for help. You’ll avoid making a mistake and will learn the right thing to do the next time the situation pops up. But this brings me to my next common mistake 


7. Not trying hard enough yourself 

Before asking for help, you should try really, really hard to figure it out yourself first. Seriously, Google is so helpful. Can’t figure out how to print something? Don’t know how to send a fax (who does now a days)? Please just figure it out yourself.  


8. Thinking a task is beneath you 

Nothing is beneath anyone—no job is too small. Of course you should be getting the respect you deserve, but you should also be respectful of the tasks you’re expected to do. Even if you may not be getting the most important projects right off the bat, you need to dedicate yourself to them just as much as you would a bigger project. That’s the only way you’ll be able to succeed and grow.  


9. Not taking initiative 

Do you find yourself having a new idea that could make the company more successful, but letting it slide since no one asked you to chime in? Don’t let yourself fall in to the habit of letting good ideas go unused. You’ll end up caring less about your job and it’ll show. Instead, if you have an idea, present it. If there’s a part of your job you’re passionate about, really let that show. You were hired because your employer saw value and potential in your work, so let your ideas flourish so you can grow in your job.  


10. Complaining 

It might be tempting to try and fit in with your coworkers by venting about the job. But try to avoid this. Negativity will bring your mood down and make doing your best work more difficult. Instead, try to find other common interests with your coworkers and leave any venting you absolutely need to get off your chest for friends outside of the office.  



Despite this list, you’ll probably make a few mistakes. But don’t worry too much about it! We all make mistakes; the important thing is to learn from them.  


Did this list help you out? What sort of mistakes have you made at work? Help people searching for the job path that’s right for them by sharing your story on UltiCareer to illustrate what a day in the life of your type of job is really like. Include your likes and dislikes—we want to hear it all!  

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