H O W T O R E A D & U N D E R S T A N D C O N T R AC T S
One of the first things you need to do when starting a full time job out of uni is to sign an employment contract. So why aren't we taught what it all means and, more importantly, what is reasonable or negotiable?
It is incredibly important to ensure that you are being given what was agreed at your interview, including your rights as an employee and also your employers duties during your time of work. For example, you should be certain that you're being paid at least minimum wage, and a pension must now be offered.
An employment contract should also include the following:
- employee and employer names
- employment start date
- job title
- pay details
- hours of work and place of work
- holiday entitlement and holiday pay
- sick pay
- pension schemes
- notice periods
- grievance, dismissal and disciplinary procedures
N E G O T I A T I O N
This mostly applies to your industry, for example in marketing you would negotiate with a sales team to, say, bring the price of your advertising down. However, in general you might find yourself negotiating important matters such as base wages and pay rises. For a lot of people, this is a nerve-wracking prospect; however, Forbes and Elle have some good advice on this matter.
H O W T O T A L K O N T H E P H O N E
When I first started working, I felt sick every time the phone rang. All these questions raced through my head: what do I answer with? What if it's a complaint? What am I not allowed to say? What if the line's dodgy and I can't understand what they're saying?
If you find yourself feeling like this, it's not uncommon. However, there are simple ways to improve how you communicate verbally. For example, take fifteen minutes to go through with your manager a typical phone call situation; ask who will likely be calling you, what issues you'll be dealing with, and who you should direct the call to if you're unable to deal with it yourself.
At the end of the day, the only way you'll be able to improve your confidence with phone calls is to practice!
N E T W O R K I N G
Small talk, exchanging cards, dressing smartly. No one tells you how to network at uni unless you actively attend student networking events, so it's something that can only be experienced by diving in headfirst.
If it's your first time, I would persuade an colleague to come along and show you the ropes; this way, you'll understand how to introduce yourself, who to talk to and when it's time to leave.
When you're attending a networking event, the first thing you should do is find the host and introduce yourself. Try not to mingle for too long with people you recognise - nobody ever made new contacts by staying in one place - and always remember that you're representing your business; you're not there to make besties.
H O W T O S T A N D U P F O R Y O U R S E L F
We're all treated very much the same whilst at university, but when it comes to office politics (or, God forbid, real politics in the office) there's little that you can take from your lectures and seminars.
Standing up for yourself, and your opinions, is crucial - as is knowing when to concede. If a work-related issue arises that you feel passionately about, prepare some points that back up your opinions so that people have more to consider in your favour. If it's a more personal issue, perhaps it should be discussed in private (I've seen people's personal issues provoke messy arguments, simply because they were not handled well in the first place).
However, if you feel as if your opinions are not being given the respect that you feel they deserve, maybe it's time to think about a change in environment. Forbes (again) and Cosmopolitan have interesting points on this.